At 5:30 p.m. Friday, November 7, during Portland’s First Friday Art Walk, the Portland Museum of Art (PMA) will present to the public Robert Indiana’s SEVEN (1980/2003)—a monumental contemporary sculpture that will immediately become one of Portland’s most famous landmarks. As a longtime Vinalhaven resident, Indiana is a beloved part of Maine’s artistic heritage, and his work and career have long been celebrated by the PMA. With SEVEN, the museum is not only affirming its physical location in the city—at Seven Congress Square—but outwardly demonstrating its commitment to adding iconic artworks to its collection. The evening festivities will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony and performances by local artists.
“With the installation of this sculpture on our front plaza, the PMA announces that this is and always will be a place for art,” says Chief Curator Jessica May. “Robert Indiana is one of a small number of artists whose place in American culture and in the history of art in Maine is truly tremendous. We could not be happier to honor his artistic practice and to enrich our collection with this historic acquisition.”
Indiana imagined SEVEN as part of a larger series of works—numerals zero through nine—in different sizes, with 8 x 8 x 4 feet as the largest in the series. The first group was produced in brightly colored aluminum in 1980 and was eventually donated to the Indianapolis Museum of Art. In the mid-1990s, Indiana reengaged a foundry to complete his numerals series, including the large-scale weathering-steel numerals.
In addition to being a significant acquisition for the PMA, SEVEN is also a meaningful addition to the public art in the city of Portland. The sculpture stands as a testament to the revitalization of the arts district—in its epicenter at Congress Square. SEVEN is a public sculpture, a landmark, and a tourist attraction in one: an artwork that will come to define the city of Portland, Maine.