Activities
Inspiration

With your students, look at Indiana’s painting The X-5 (1963) and related information. Use the following links to explore the primary sources of inspiration for this painting.

Charles Demuth, I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold, 1928. Metropolitan Museum of Art
http://metmuseum.org/collections/search-the-collections/488315

 William Carlos Williams, The Great Figure, 1916.
http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/182065

1. Ekphrasis is the Greek term for the verbal description of a visual object. William Carlos Williams’s poem The Great Figure is an example of ekphrasis, so is John Keats’s poem Ode on a Grecian Urn. Find more information about ekphrasis here: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/5918. Demuth and Indiana have created a kind of reverse ekphrasis by painting a visual image inspired by a poem. Ask your students to making a painting or write an ekphrastic poem about an object they’ve been inspired by. View and discuss students’ work. What new understanding did they discover about the objects they selected?

2. Use the Whitney’s online collection for teachers to explore works by artists who have used words. Explore the sources that may have inspired these works. For example, Christopher Wool has used the words “run dog run,” found in elementary school primers, while Glenn Ligon has used literary texts by famous authors. Discuss how the artists are transforming words to create new meaning.

 

Robert Indiana, The X-5, 1963. Oil on canvas, five units, 36 × 36 in (91.4 × 91.4 cm) each; 108 × 108 in. (274.3 x 274.3 cm) overall. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase  64.9a-e