Artworks
Liberty '76
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Arty Fact

More about Liberty '76

wbillingsley's picture

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In 1973 the art scene in New York labeled Robert Indiana a sell-out, prompting him to move up to Maine.

And while some of the pieces he made after his famed Love are truly inspired, its ones like Liberty ‘76 that make it hard to disagree with the accusations of his peers.

Robert Indiana is generally classified as a Pop Artist, and the thing is that the Pop Art movement is supposed to be somewhat counter cultural. Their thing was that they took the images of the consumerist world and used them subversively, with many artists like Andy Warhol and James Rosenquist getting their start in the advertising industry and then working their way out to the world of fine art.

Here though, Robert Indiana is going the opposite direction. This work was made to celebrate the 1976 American Bicentennial and it does so in the most mediocre, non-subversive way possible. We get the ‘76, the mention of freedom, some stripes and two-hundred stars (yes, I counted them), and that is pretty much it. If you are wondering, the quote isn’t any kind of special word play. That being unless it is a reference to Margaret Thatcher’s “When people are free to choose, they choose freedom” which I doubt as she is, you know, British.

However the real nail in the coffin for Indiana, the true piece-de-capitalistic-resistance, is the fact that the official patron of this work is none other than the Lorillard Tobacco Company. That's right boys and girls, this celebration of the American Dream has been brought to you by Newport, the #2 best selling cigarette in the United States.

There is always a chance that we are looking at this all wrong, and actually Indiana is a staunch resistance fighter, sticking it to the “man” in some fashion of which I am too lame to understand. However, for a guy who does so much with circles, this picture’s history makes him look real square.

Sources

Sources

  1. Albright Knox Art Gallery. “Liberty '76 from Kent Bicentennial Portfolio: Spirit of Independence, 1974-1975” date accessed 07/17/2019
  2. C.D.C. “Tobacco Brand Preferences” date last modified 08/01/2018 https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/tobacco_industry...
  3. Figure5art LLC. “Biography” RobertIndiana.com date accessed 07/17/2019 http://robertindiana.com/biography/
  4. Neal, Rome “Artist trapped by ‘Love’” CBS News, 10/24/2004 https://www.cbsnews.com/news/artist-trapped-by-love/
  5. Sheinbaum, Gregg “WOW! – Work of the Week – Robert Indiana – Liberty ’76” Gregg Sheinbaum Fine Art, 01/15/2018 http://gsfineart.com/gallery-news/wow/wow-work-of-the-week-robert-indian...