Robert Indiana - Evening & Day Editions London Wednesday, June 7, 2023 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • “I’ve always been fascinated by numbers.”
    —Robert Indiana 

    Famed for his strikingly simple and extremely bold compositions, Robert Indiana’s eye-catching Numbers portfolio is comprised of ten screenprints. Featuring the digits 0 to 9, each number is rendered in a block colour and contained within a contrasting geometric circle, with the corresponding word spelt out in capital letters below. Combining the artist’s love of text with the curvature of Arabic numerals, Indiana’s composition encourages a viewer to approach these digits in a multitude of ways; as visual shorthand for the words they symbolise, as simple geometric forms, and as signifiers of autobiographical milestones or vessels of personal experiences. Oscillating between symbol and shape, Indiana’s Numbers demonstrates the artist’s long-standing fascination with simplified signage and how these signifiers are perceived on an individual basis. 


    Charles Demuth, I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold, 1928. Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Art Resource/Scala, Florence

     “I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold by Charles Henry Demuth is my favourite American painting in New York City’s Metropolitan Museum.”  —Robert Indiana 

    Robert Indiana was a central figure in the Pop art movement in the United States, which rose to prominence in the 1960s. Inspired by mass-culture and advertising, Pop art sought to develop a distinct visual language that complemented contemporary society, ushering in the ‘American Century’. Regularly relying on text to form the mainstay of his artworks - as exemplified in his renowned ‘LOVE’ compositions - Indiana also incorporated numbers into his designs with increasing frequency. Inspired by one of his favourite paintings, I Saw The Figure Five In Gold (1928) by Charles Demuth, the Pop artist experimented with the incorporation of Arabic numerals in his work. Demuth was a pioneer of Precisionism - an artistic movement that gained traction in the United States throughout the 1920s and ‘30s, characterised by clean lines and sleek, geometric forms. Developed as a distinct style that aimed to convey ‘The Machine Age’ of American industrial expansion, Demuth’s Precisionism draws both aesthetic and conceptual parallels to Indiana’s hard-edged Pop approach. Interestingly, it was the same pursuit of a uniquely American language that proved to be the driving force behind the work of William Carlos Williams - the poet who composed The Great Figure, a 32-word poem which served as the initial inspiration behind Demuth’s painting. Endeavouring to create work uninfluenced by European or Classical literature, Carlos Williams preferred to write in colloquial American English. Widely acknowledged to be the poem’s visual equivalent, Demuth’s Precisionist approach echoes Carlos Williams’ desire to find a uniquely American form of expression. By referencing Demuth and, in doing so, recalling the poetry of William Carlos Williams, Indiana enters into a multi-layered and cross-disciplinary search for a distinctly American idiom which culminates in his Pop art Numbers portfolio.


    Aside from the complex references at play in Numbers, the incorporation of digits into the artist’s wider oeuvre also carried a very personal significance for Indiana. Adopted as an infant, Indiana spent his childhood moving frequently through his namesake state, living in 21 different houses before the age of 17. As a pastime, the artist would often revisit these houses, counting them as he went. For Indiana, each house represented a specific number. These formative experiences shaped Indiana’s understanding of how people related to numbers, and the artist continued to explore the power of numbers across paintings, prints and sculpture throughout his career.

    • Literature

      Susan Sheehan 46-55


Numbers (S. 46-55)

The complete set of 10 screenprints in colours, on Arches paper, the full sheets.
all S. 64.8 x 49.8 cm (25 1/2 x 19 5/8 in.)
All signed, dated and numbered 75/125 in pencil (there were also 35 artist's proofs in Roman numerals), co-published by Edition Domberger, Stuttgart, and Galerie Schmela, Düsseldorf, lacking the portfolio, pages and folios, all framed.

Full Cataloguing

£30,000 - 40,000 

Sold for £35,560

Contact Specialist
+44 20 7318 4091

Rebecca Tooby-Desmond
Specialist, Head of Sale, Editions

Robert Kennan
Head of Editions, Europe

Anne Schneider-Wilson
Senior International Specialist, Editions

Louisa Earl
Associate Specialist, Editions

Evening & Day Editions

London Auction 7 - 8 June 2023