Friday, February 24, 2012

Beyond Shapes, Colours, Words

"Robert Indiana Figures of Speech" written by Susan Elizabeth Ryan is a three-hundred plus pages book about the artist and his work. After the introduction, it consists of six chapters, followed by appendixes with poems from Indiana, artist's statements, notes and index.

In chapters one and two, titled respectively " The Making of Autobiography (Robert Clark)" and "Constructing Robert Indiana", the author writes a biography, insisting on the traumatic events in the artist's life and describes how she will develop the subject later, relating childhood traumas and the subsequent works from Indiana. These two chapters could have been condensed in one, avoiding some repetitions.

She then tackles the real material: how to interpret the works from Indiana. The detailed analysis of major works made me discover this hermetic artist. Till reading this book, I considered Indiana a pop artist, a graphic designer. I discovered the symbols, mantra, orbs, herms and the depth of his message. The poet gives their full impact to the words enhanced by their visual display. They become mantra. The last chapter discusses his "LOVE " series, and replace them in the social and political context of the sixties.

The text is condensed and dry but the illustrations are plentiful, well annotated and allow the reader to discover or rediscover Indiana's major works.

All aspects of the artist are represented in the book with his poems at the end and it should be recommended for novices or experts.
The author brings the reader on a very intellectual journey.

photographs by the author:
"Love, Red Blue", Robert Indiana, 1966-1967
"Art", Robert Indiana, 1972-2001

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