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Purim: Four Facets of Esther

Robert Indiana (American, b. 1928)

Purim: Four Facets of Esther, 1967

  • Screenprint on paper
  • 29 7/16 x 23 1/2 in. (74.8 x 59.7 cm)
  • The Jewish Museum, New York
  • Commissioned by The Jewish Museum, JM 109-67
  • © 2008 Morgan Art Foundation Ltd. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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Purim: Four Facets of Esther

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Purim: Four Facets of Esther

The Jewish Museum commissioned this work by Robert Indiana in 1967 and exhibited it on Purim that year. Indiana here uses his usual repertoire of bright colors, geometric symbols, and stenciled letters and numbers to celebrate the multi-faceted nature of Queen Esther. Esther is the champion of the Purim story, a young woman who took great risks to save her people from annihilation.

Indiana had at one point considered a career as a poet, and the way he builds complex meanings from fragmentary words and symbols is itself a form of poetry. We see here his love of words, as he plays with the related sounds of faith, feat, feast, fast, and facet. These few words express key elements of Esther's story and character with great brevity (see About Purim for further explanation). Circles and stars are common in Indiana's work as well, and here he substitutes his usual five-pointed star (often associated with the American flag) with the six-pointed Jewish star, in honor of the heroine.