Today, Friday the 13th, marks the 85th birthday of Robert Indiana, the Pop Art innovator behind the iconic “LOVE” sculptures seen around the world.
Born Robert Clark in 1928, the artist later adopted the pseudonym of his home state while living in the lofts of lower Manhattan’s old Coenties Slip. Working in the industrial space alongside Ellsworth Kelly, Agnes Martin, and James Rosenquist, Indiana’s work evolved from biomorphic to hard-edged abstraction, assemblages of found items, and bright, single-word paintings. Though he adopted the subject of American commercial signage in the fifties, 1966 was the year he first created his own enduring icon, a landmark that set the course for his career to this day.
“I had no idea LOVE would catch on the way it did,” he wrote of his most famous creation. “Oddly enough, I wasn’t thinking at all about anticipating the Love generation and hippies. It was a spiritual concept. It isn’t a sculpture of love any longer. It’s become the very theme of love itself.”