Robert Indiana, ‘LOVE’, 1966-1999, Galerie Laurent Strouk
Robert Indiana, ‘LOVE’, 1966-1999, Galerie Laurent Strouk

Robert Indiana‘s Love is an icon of Twentieth Century art history: instantly recognisable, the work stands proudly as a form of collective signifier, symbolising positivity and goodwill at a universal level. Created in its first sculptural iteration in 1966, versions of Love now form part of the collections of major international institutions, including the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and have been displayed in prominent public spaces such as Sixth Avenue in NYC and the John F. Kennedy Plaza in Philadelphia. In addition, a major retrospective of of I’s work is currently on display at the Whitney Museum of American art in NYC. Despite the immutable solidity of the metal which anchors Love firmly to the ground, the spiritual element of the work was of immense importance to Indiana: “Know that the Love I speak of is spiritual“.

Indiana has been fascinating by the potential of signs throughout his career and his Love sculptures and similar word pieces can be viewed as a dialogue with semantic possibilities. His earliest works were inspired by commercial signage, and the Love series is arguably a direct heir of these first paintings and sculptures. Indiana’s realisation of the graphic potential of the sign invites associations with the work of the West coast pop artists, in particular that of Ed Ruscha, whose 1960s paintings were inspired by commercial language and road signage. Yet it was Indiana who first elevated to the level of pure art object. Divorced from their original lexicographical context, the characters that form Indiana’s love take on qualities independent of their meaning, with the combination of sinuous curves and shapes lines, combined with the playfully tilting circular form of the O, creating an object that exudes a sense of exquisite grace despite his solidity.

Image rights: galerie Laurent Strouk

About Robert Indiana

One of the central figures of the Pop Art movement, Robert Indiana takes his inspiration from commercial signs, claiming: “There are more signs than trees in America. There are more signs than leaves. So I think of myself as a painter of American landscape.” In his paintings, sculptures, and prints, he mimics and re-arranges the words and numbers of a myriad of signs, including the Phillips 66 gas station logo and the “Yield” traffic sign. He is most famous for his “Love” paintings and sculptures, first produced in the 1960s. Creating a block out of the word—with the “L” and the “O” set atop the “V” and the “E”—Indiana has effectively inserted his own sign into the mix. His “LOVE” painting was reproduced on a postage stamp in 1973; his “LOVE” sculptures are installed in public spaces worldwide.

American, b. 1928, New Castle, Indiana, based in New York, New York