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Work of the Week | 13 February 2023

CAG.3019 Robert Indiana, The Seventh American Dream, 1998, serigraph in six colours on Coventry rag paper (28/70), 111.76 x 88.9 cm. Purchased, 2015. © the artist’s estate.

This WORK OF THE WEEK goes Pop!

The Seventh American Dream (1998) by Robert Indiana is a playful meditation on success and creative exile.

The bold graphic of this serigraph (or silk-screen print) draws upon the artist’s vocabulary of colour and text, and characteristic diamond-shaped format. It is also the largest of Indiana’s American Dream series, which numbers nine in total.

Delving into the artist’s imagery, we can learn something of his own biography at the time of its making. His use of blue, white, and red, for instance, suggest both the United States and French national flags, which corresponds with Indiana’s career retrospective – and 70th birthday – at the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain in Nice.

He also considers his personal version of the American Dream and includes his name among those of others who made a success in France. Aside from Indiana, the names and locations allude to entertainers – and gay icons – Josephine Baker (1906-1975), Isadora Duncan (1877/8-1927), and Grace Kelly (1929-1982), who perhaps embody a reverse of the American Dream as they were each to leave the United States in pursuit of fulfilment. Given this particular selection of women, the irony of earlier works in the series is perhaps tinged with tragedy.

Robert Indiana (1928-2018) was a hugely influential pop artist who is perhaps best known today for his iconic LOVE series of images and sculptures. He changed his name from Clark to Indiana (his home state) in 1958 during his relationship with fellow artist, Ellsworth Kelly (1923-2015).

The Seventh American Dream (1998) by Robert Indiana is featured in RADHARC: Perspectives in Print until 21 May.

The Arts House: Conor Tallon chats with curator Michael Waldron about a work from the Collection every Sunday morning on Cork’s 96FM and C103 Cork. You can listen back to this week’s chat here:


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