“I’m not a business man, I’m an artist,” Robert Indiana said, refusing to copyright his iconic LOVE sculpture in 1965. An odd and tortured soul, an artist who wanted both fame and solitude, Indiana surrounded himself with people to manage his life and work. Yet, he frequently changed his mind and often fired or belittled those who worked with him. By 2008, when Indiana created the sculpture HOPE—or did he?—the artist had signed away his work for others to exploit, creating doubt about whether he had even seen artwork sold for very high prices under his name.
At the time of his death, Indiana left an estate worth millions—and unsettling suspicions. There were allegations of fraudulent artwork, of elder abuse, of caregivers who subjected him to horrendous living conditions. There were questions about the inconclusive autopsy and rumors that his final will had been signed under coercion. There were strong suspicions about the freeloaders who’d attached themselves to the famous artist. “In the final hours of his life,” the author writes, “Robert Indiana was without the grace of a better angel, as the people closest to him covered their tracks and plotted their defenses.”
With unparalleled access to the key players in Indiana’s life, author Bob Keyes tells a fast-paced and riveting story that provides a rare inside look into the life of an artist as well as the often, too often, unscrupulous world of high-end art. The reader is taken inside the world of art dealers, law firms, and an array of local characters in Maine whose lives intersected with the internationally revered artist living in an old Odd Fellows Hall on Vinalhaven Island.
The Isolation Artist is for anyone interested in contemporary art, business, and the perilous intersection between them. It an extraordinary window into the life and death of a singular and contradictory American artist—one whose work touched countless millions through everything from postage stamps to political campaigns to museums—even as he lived and died in isolation, with a lack of love, the loss of hope, and lots and lots of money.