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Installation view of Robert Indiana: A Sculpture Retrospective

Installation view of Robert Indiana: A Sculpture Retrospective. From left: Ahab, 1962 (cast 1991); Ahab, 1962; The Melville Triptych, 1962; Call Me Ishmael, 1964/1998; and Call Me Indiana, 1964/1998. Photograph by Tom Powel Imaging. © Morgan Art Foundation Ltd / Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York

Exhibition Spotlight: Literary Works in Robert Indiana: A Sculpture Retrospective

July 25, 2018

Especially early in his career, Robert Indiana thought of himself primarily as a poet and a painter, and in the early 1960s, he created a body of work inspired by the work of nineteenth-century American literary figures including Herman Melville and Walt Whitman. Writers like Melville and Whitman resonated with Indiana on multiple levels: for their groundbreaking expressions of the American experience but also for their paeans to seafaring, which were widely read within the queer community as coded investigations of same-sex desire.

Installation view of Robert Indiana: A Sculpture Retrospective

Installation view of Robert Indiana: A Sculpture Retrospective. From left: Ahab, 1962 (cast 1991); Ahab, 1962; and The Melville Triptych, 1962. Photograph by Tom Powel Imaging. © Morgan Art Foundation Ltd / Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York

Robert Indiana: A Sculpture Retrospective features several works Indiana based on his engagement with Melville, including The Melville Triptych, which features lines from Melville’s most famous novel, Moby DickAhab, named after the novel's antihero protagonist; and Call me Ishmael and Call me Indiana, which allude to its famous opening line. 

Robert Indiana: A Sculpture Retrospective is on view through September 23.

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