ROBERT INDIANA - HARTLEY'S DIAMOND SHAPED ELEGIES VI through X
Pop art icon Robert Indiana’s series of imposing serigraphs in homage to Modernist master Marsden Hartley (1877-1943) are at once commemorative and reflexive, intertwining the influences, identities, and attachments of two quintessential American painters. (Margery Gordon)
When Indiana embarked on the Hartley Elegies in 1989, he took as his starting point the “German Officer” series Hartley painted 75 years earlier at the outset of World War I during a Berlin-based period (see images below) , now viewed as a highpoint of his career (although American audiences at the time were not receptive to his subject matter). Hartley’s style was then influenced by German Expressionists like Vassily Kandinsky, and the Cubist compositions he had encountered at Gertrude Stein’s salons during a prior stay in Paris.
His abstract portraits eulogized Karl von Freyburg, the German soldier and object of Hartley’s affection who was killed in the early days of the war - not through figurative representation but rather the accretion of letters, numbers, geometric patterns, and military regalia that included the Iron Cross medal awarded to his beloved friend the day before his death.
One of my Elegies, N. X, on site