“Love” is the brainchild of Robert Indiana who was known for making paintings and sculptures that featured words as the main visual subject. He specifically focused on single, poetically powerful words, with his most famous being “love”. The sculptures date back to the 1970s and add a pop-art touch to their surroundings. The origins of the design can be traced back to the Museum of Modern Art in New York who commissioned Indiana to create a Christmas card and later a postage stamp. Indiana’s inspiration for choosing that word is rooted in his religious upbringing where he was exposed to “God is Love” from an early age.
The specific colors chosen were a homage to his father, who worked at a Phillips 66 gas station during the Depression. According to Wikipedia, Indiana describes the original colors as “the red and green of that [Phillips 66] sign against the blue Hoosier sky.” Thus, the iconic “love” was born. Now, over 50 editions of the sculpture can be found around the world from New York City to Philadelphia to Singapore and Taipei. The sculpture found in Minneapolis’s Sculpture Garden is one of the longest standing sculptures in the park drawing millions of visitors each year as a premiere photo spot.
Robert Indiana has been one of the preeminent figures in American art since the 1960s and has played a crucial role in developing the assemblage art movement, hard-edge painting, and Pop art. In his work, he explores American identity, his personal history, and the power of abstraction and language. This has helped Indiana establish a legacy that has resonated with many contemporary artists.
Cover photo: Titled 'NYC:LOVE by Wally Gobetz licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0 via Flickr.