Conceived in a time when the United States was consumed by the Vietnam War, LOVE (1969–1999) became a symbol for peace. This famous sculpture by the late Robert Indiana (1928–2018) is one of the most celebrated works within the pop art movement and the art world as a whole.
Purchased through the Scottsdale Public Art Program with in-kind support from Pascal and Sylvie de Sarthe, of Scottsdale, and Simon and Gilian Salama-Caro, of New York, LOVE measures 144 x 144 x 72 inches and is made of poly-chromed red and blue aluminum, weighing 3,800 pounds. There are a number of different editions with various color patterns. Scottsdale’s purchase was the first in a series of five (with two artist proofs) of a red/blue color scheme.
The word “love” was a fixture in the art of Robert Indiana, though its form and structure changed significantly throughout the years, from its initial appearance in his poetry in 1958 to numerous sculptures around the world today. The word “love,” as a subject for his visual art, first appeared in his painting Four Star Love (1961) and later in the painting Love is God (1964). The latter was inspired by the phrase “God is love,” which had been displayed in a Christian Science church he attended as a child.
He created the first version of LOVE with stacked capital letters — the “LO” atop the “VE” — for a personal Christmas card Indiana designed for friends in 1964. In 1965, the Museum of Modern Art selected Indian’s LOVE design for its official Christmas card, choosing one of three designs submitted by Indiana. The chosen image featured the iconic stacked red letters surrounded by fields of blue and green. Since then, LOVE has become a cultural icon and has been used extensively throughout the art world and media, with and without the artist’s approval. The image has been transformed into T-shirts, mugs, rugs and posters. The authorized 330 million United States postal stamps issued in 1973 are among the more popular examples of the mass reproduction of this image.
The original sculptural rendition of LOVE was fabricated from Cor-ten steel in 1970. It can be seen at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Dozens of other LOVE sculptures are now on display around the world, from New York City and London to Tokyo and Jerusalem, where the sculpture depicts the Hebrew word for “love.”
Robert Indiana was a seminal figure in the pop art movement. Born Robert Clark in 1928 in New Castle, Indiana, he studied in both the United States and Europe before settling in New York in 1954. He called himself a “sign painter,” incorporating symbols, signs, letters and words throughout his art. Indiana’s work was inspired by old trade names, traffic signs, automatic amusement machines and commercial stencils. He created poems, paintings, sculptures, silk screens and posters. Pieces by Indiana stem not only from symmetry, color and form, but also from content that addresses politics, religion and the human condition.
The art of Robert Indiana has been exhibited at The Guggenheim Museum in New York City; The Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston; The Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia; The Museum of Modern Art in New York City; The National Museum of American Art at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC; The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City; and numerous other museums and galleries across the world. In 1970 he received an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from Franklin and Marshall College as well as one in 1977 from the University of Indiana and another in 1981 from Colby College. A collective retrospective of his work was shown at the Musée D’Art Moderne Contemporain in Nice, France, in 1998 and more have followed. Indiana’s realist approach (as coined by the Sidney Janis Gallery in New York City) helped define a generation of art and artists.
This artwork contains AR components.
Meet Wendy Raisanen, curator of collections and exhibitions for Scottsdale Public Art, to learn the history of this iconic piece from the collection. You can also see examples of LOVE from around the world.
LocationPark, 7343 E Scottsdale Mall, Scottsdale, AZ 85251, USA