Conceived in a time when the United States was consumed by the Vietnam War, LOVE became a symbol for Peace. This famous sculpture by Robert Indiana (1969-1999) 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 is a 144" (h) x144" (w) x72" (d) sculpture made of poly-chromed red and blue aluminum, weighing 3,800 lbs. There are a number of different colored editions, Scottsdale's purchase was the first in a series of five (with two artist proofs).
LOVE has been a fixture in the art of Robert Indiana. Its form and structure have changed significantly throughout the years from 1958-1966 and even through to today. The iconography first appeared in a series of poems originally written in 1958, in which Indiana stacked LO and VE on top of one another. The first LOVE sculpture was carved out of a solid block of aluminum, highly unpolished, that the pop artist had made for a show at the Stable Gallery in 1966. The idea for the sculptural piece originated from a visit to a Christian Science church in Indianapolis, where Robert was taken by an adorned banner that read "GOD is LOVE." He then created a painting for an exhibition held in what was formerly a Christian Science church. It depicted the reverse of the previous banner, stating "LOVE is GOD."
Shortly after, Indiana was commissioned to design a Christmas card for the Museum of Modern Art, for which he made three small paintings of the word love in red, blue and green. These cards were printed in 1965 and since have been the most popular card MoMA has ever published. 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 330-million United States postal stamps issued in the 1970s are one of the more popular examples of the mass reproduction and appropriation of this image.
Robert Indiana, originally Robert Clark, was a seminal figure in the pop art movement. Born in New Castle, Indiana in 1928, he studied in both the United States and Europe before settling in New York in 1956. He has called himself a sign painter, incorporating symbols, signs, letters and words throughout his art. Indiana's work has been inspired by old trade names, traffic signs, automatic amusement machines and commercial stencils. He has created poems, paintings, sculptures, silk screens and posters. Pieces by Indiana stem from not only symmetry, color and form, but also content that addresses politics, religion and the human condition.
The art of Robert Indiana has been exhibited at The Guggenheim Museum, New York, The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, The Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, The National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC, The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and numerous other museums and galleries across the world. In 1970 he received an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 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, Nice, France, in 1998 and more have followed. Indiana is a celebrated artist whose realist approach, (as coined by the Sidney Janis Gallery, New York), helped define a generation of art and artists.