Bob’s Column belongs to a series of columns that Indiana began in 1964, and modified with the addition of gold paint in 1998. The other works are My Mother, My Father, Dillinger, Call Me Ishmael, and Call Me Indiana. These columns were first exhibited with wheels in 2005 at the exhibition Robert Indiana: Wood, Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York. They were most recently on view at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, United Kingdom, in the exhibition Robert Indiana: Sculpture 1958–2018.
Indiana’s columns, like his herms, were made from remnants of the shipping trade. Originally masts of old sailing ships, they were later used in maritime buildings built after the Great Fire of 1835. Indiana painted stenciled words around the perimeter of these columns, in this instance the names of eight significant places where he lived, turning the column into a geographical retrospective of his life. At the bottom is New Castle (Indiana), the city of his birth, and at the top Vinalhaven (Maine), where he resided from 1978 until his death in 2018. In between are Indianapolis, Chicago, Skowhegan, and Edinburgh, places where he studied art, and Coenties Slip and The Bowery, where his studios in New York City were located.