To be honest, I knew very little about artist Robert Indiana prior to visiting the brilliant retrospective of his work at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Yes, I was familiar with the iconic LOVE sculpture, but beyond that, the full scope of his life’s work had escaped my notice. That deficiency has now been corrected, I’m extremely pleased to report, after spending an inspiring afternoon immersed in the stylized numbers, vivid colors, provocative words and intriguing symbols that appear and reappear throughout the exhibit.
The work contained in Robert Indiana: A Sculptural Retrospective fills the galleries of the AK’s 1905 building with the kind of creativity that only the most gifted and original artists achieve. The work is deeply personal and deceptively simple in some cases, reflecting Indiana’s lifelong fascination with the signage, billboards and advertisements of the mid-Twentieth Century American highway. This source material is transmuted into paintings, prints and sculpture whose lines and colors are both stimulatingly original and pleasingly familiar.
The centerpiece of the retrospective is the circle of LOVE in the AK’s Sculpture Court. Here, a visitor will find nine iterations of the justly famous LOVE and AMOR sculptures, rendered in various shades and sizes of marble. A number of these pieces are being shown publicly for the first time and their breathtaking beauty would alone justify a trip to Buffalo.
Also of note and not to be missed is a satellite exhibit of Indiana’s sculpted numbers at Wilkeson Pointe on the city’s waterfront. Set amid a grove of towering poplar trees in sight of the Lake Erie shoreline, the Numbers One Through Zero installation offers another striking example of the visual excitement now found in Buffalo’s public places.