collection

The Red Diamond American Dream # 3

  • 1962
  • Robert Indiana
  • oil on canvas
  • 265,5 x 264,9 x 4 cm (incl. lijst / frame)
  • Location not on view.
  • Acquired in 1966
  • Inventory number 169

The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 2800 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.

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Description

This work by Robert Indiana is composed of four equally large square frameworks which have been combined to form a diamond-shaped painting and a disc has been painted on each part. These discs all consist of a ring of two concentric circles inside which an octagon has been painted, with the corners touching the edges. The rings and octagons are subdivided into or contain smaller shapes. Numbers and/or letters are clearly present in all the discs and the background of each section is red, while the rings are black and white. The octagons consist of black combined with red and/or white. The remaining shapes between the octagons and the rings are painted a bright yellow.

Indiana’s work can be classified in the hard edge school of painting, but his work is not abstract. He used themes which are derived from contemporary objects such as traffic signs, billboards, gambling machines and jukeboxes. In this respect it is related to Pop Art. However, it is less impersonal and more critical than most Pop Art. Indiana’s work has a personal background and a message. The top disc of 'Red Diamond American Dream #3' contains the numbers of the American roads which Indiana’s father drove looking for his dream house. He ran a gas station on Route 66, the “freeway to the west”. The two discs in the centre refer to gaming tables or gambling machines with flashing signs. The lower disc contains the words THE AMERICAN DREAM. This term refers to the aspiration to do well in the world, which was also Indiana’s father’s dream.

Indiana did several paintings on the theme of “The American Dream”. 'Red Diamond American Dream #3' is the third in the series, as indicated in the title and by the number in the bottom disc. Because of the subjects that are used, the theme of “The American Dream” has a cynical undertone: is The American Dream cruising in a car on the highway or entertaining yourself by gambling? But the cynical undertone disappears from the fifth “American Dream” painting, and as he says himself, Indiana has become “an American painter painting an American theme.”

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Context

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