Just one month after the death of artist Robert Indiana, his set of world-renowned sculptures, “NUMBERS ONE through ZERO,” are making their U.S. debut on the Western New York Waterfront.
“NUMBERS ONE through ZERO” is now on display at Wilkeson Pointe on Buffalo’s Outer Harbor.
The eight-foot tall steel numbers are on loan from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery until October 2019. The gallery’s Deputy Director, Dr. Joe Lin-Hill, said artist Robert Indiana conceived of each piece having its own significance in the life cycle, “beginning with birth, one, and zero signifying death.”
The numbers have travelled the world, but this is the first time they’ve come to the U.S.
“I believe Indiana would be very pleased, indeed, to see his monumental numbers cycle installed here on the waterfront, where they reference – through their very material, COR-TEN steel – Buffalo’s proud heritage, but also symbolize the cities in Western New York’s revitalization and growing dynamism,” said Lin-Hill.
The numbers weigh between 2,000 and 2,500 pounds each, so getting them to where they’re displayed is no easy feat. Large teams used cranes to carefully install them and had to consider some unique factors.
“We’re on a former landfill with a cap, so you have to hand-dig the foundations,” explained Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation Chairman Robert Gioia. “And getting them here, on time, and making sure that they fit, and leaving something outside for a year and a half requires some safety features that normally you or I wouldn’t terribly consider, nor would people think about.”
In contrast to most museum-based exhibits, handprints show that the numbers tend to get touched. People may also have the urge to try and climb on the expensive pieces of art – something ECHDC and Albright-Knox will have to find ways dissuade them from doing.
The display is part of the ongoing public art program run by Erie County and Buffalo’s Arts Commission. West Seneca resident Michele Wade was among the first to visit the display with two of her daughters.
“I like to explore with them and kind of show them what’s out there while the displays are going on,” said Wade. “So we like to make our stops around the city.”
Wade said she’s planning to bring all four of her daughters back for a family photo shoot, and expects they’ll each have a favorite number.
Out of all the sculptures, Lin-Hill said ‘2’ was Indiana’s favorite “because it takes two for love, and love was his greatest preoccupation.”