It’s [The Green Diamond Eat/The Red Diamond Die] meant as a slightly different kind of diptych. They are one, it’s meant as one painting actually . . . it’s very personal and it should of course be personal to everyone and it’s meant in exactly that way.
. . . but the first sign [Phillips 66] that ever figured in my life, and it played a tremendous, it was a huge looming thing in my childhood for several years. My father worked for Phillips 66 and now Phillips 66 is no longer red and green, it’s red and white or something, but the man who founded Phillips 66 was a man of very bad taste and he had very bad color sense and so for years the employees, they couldn’t bear it but all the filling stations were red and green, a terrible shade of red and green.
Well since my father worked for that company and since I saw that sign every day of my life for years and since he even wore a button in it [his lapel] because he had worked for the company for ten years. I couldn’t escape it and so it’s finally come out in the EAT painting, indirectly. I haven’t done a Phillips 66 painting and I probably won’t. But it’s personal because as a child during the Depression my mother, my father left my mother, and in order to support herself and myself she opened a restaurant and so for several years things like eat signs also were a prominent part of my life so that the EAT aspect of EAT and DIE is strictly a personal thing. It’s autobiographical, this is my whole childhood.
The DIE, and it’s meant as the other side of the coin. Everybody eats, and everybody enjoys life, and everybody consumes, and very few people ever think about what all this is really leading to. And after all that is where we are all going, and I find it provocative perhaps to think about it once in a while, and that’s why the DIE is on the other side.
— Robert Indiana
Excerpt from Jan van der Marck, interview with Robert Indiana and Richard Stankiewicz on Occasion of the Opening of Richard Stankiewicz, Robert Indiana: An Exhibition of Recent Sculptures and Paintings, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. Minneapolis, October 21, 1963.