Robert Indiana: A Legacy of Love honors the life and art of the late Pop icon and his resounding legacy. A self-proclaimed “painter of signs,” Robert Indiana shaped a highly original body of work that explores American identity; his own personal history; and the power of abstraction, symbolism, and language. Surveying Indiana’s art in conversation with works by his contemporaries and successors, this exhibition examines the innovative foreground of text and symbol within visual art during the postwar era. With artworks that at once call on the viewer to“see” and to “read,” Robert Indiana pioneered a triumphant union of text and image.
Known as one of the leaders of the Pop art movement of the 1960s, Robert Indiana’s prolific career extends well beyond this period. The artist created paintings, prints, and sculptures characterized by clean lines and saturated color until his passing in 2018. From his iconic LOVE compositions to his larger-than-life painting style, Robert Indiana: A Legacy of Love invites you to dive into the artist’s multi-decade career.
These days, character counts, photo captions, and text messages fill our daily lives. In his unique approach to image-making, Indiana’s art anticipated the current digital moment—characterized by short, direct, text-based bursts of communication. From Pop artists including Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, to contemporary artists including Mel Bochner, Deborah Kass, Glenn Ligon, Stephanie Patton, and Jack Pierson, this exhibition presents examples ranging from 1961 to the present in dialogue with shared themes in Indiana’s artwork. Of particular interest are examples by artists with ties to San Antonio, including Jesse Amado, Alejandro Diaz, Ethel Shipton, and Gary Sweeney. Robert Indiana’s lasting impact on the history of contemporary art remains profound, as his images take on new meanings in the present day.
Robert Indiana: A Legacy of Love is organized for the McNay Art Museum by René Paul Barilleaux, Head of Curatorial Affairs, and Alexis T. Meldrum, 2019–2020 Semmes Foundation Intern in Museum Studies, with Lauren Thompson, Assistant Curator, and Edward Hayes, Exhibitions Senior Manager/Registrar.
Lead funding is most generously provided by The Brown Foundation, Inc. Major funding is provided by The Tobin Theatre Arts Fund. Additional support is provided the Marcia and Otto Koehler Foundation, Frost Bank Charitable Foundation, and the Host Committee, chaired by The Tobin Theatre Arts Fund, Mel Weingart, Linda Hardberger, and Robert Perdziola.
Every year, Spotlight celebrates the amazing achievements of student artists inspired by a work in the Museum’s collection.