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Yield Brother, a painting with a red X against a black ground. On top of the X is a large blue circle containing four yellow circles each with a black peace sign. The work's title appears in blue stenciled letters across the bottom of the canvas.

Yield Brother, 1963. Artwork: © Morgan Art Foundation Ltd./Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY

Arrogant admonition of the American highway, by far the most provocative of all road signs, emblazoned too on that unexpected shape: the descending triangle. Wildly indecorous for a humorless Highway Department that never follows “Soft Shoulders” with “Supple Hips.” However, Yield—as humble injunction—appropriate and pressing for the whole troubled world. So when Bertrand Russell’s plea for worldwide support for his peace program went out a few years ago I responded with my first Yield Brother, transforming certain of the cartographic forms that I had used to describe early Manhattan streets mentioned in “Moby Dick” in the Melville Triptych into his “ban the bomb” symbol, four times over—visual catechism, so to speak. Ironically enough when it was presented there in a benefit exhibition at Woburn Abbey, it found no takers in swinging, with-it England, drawing the non-reaction instead that one might expect from her old Puritannic Majesty’s realm, and was returned to America for sale here. Perhaps there has been too much yielding for the British; in Stand-Firm-America there is more need. That the countryside is peppered with “Yield” signs hasn’t affected the national conscience much—particularly in our least yielding region entrenched as it is in the doctrine of White Supremacy. Against the recalcitrance of the South I have aimed the salt of the Confederacy Series, Florida in this exhibition, but Mississippi too, and Alabama and Louisiana and eventually I mean to encompass all 13 of the Secessionist States whose citizens were willing to die for the perpetuation of human slavery, indicted here with “JUST AS IN THE ANATOMY OF MAN EVERY NATION MUST HAVE ITS HIND PART.”

 

First published in McCoubrey, John W., and Robert Indiana. Robert Indiana. Philadelphia: Institute of Contemporary Art and Falcon Press, 1968