Since 1954, MoMA has asked artists to submit Holiday Card designs for its retail shop. Cards have been created by such greats as Picasso, Alexander Calder, Andy Warhol and Jim Dine. One of the most enduring, and endearing cards was created by Robert Indiana in 1965.

Indiana’s symbol of LOVE spoke to the peace and love generation and was embraced…and duplicated…around the world.

The first of many LOVE sculptures was completed by Indiana in 1970 and went on a tour of major cities in the U.S. before being taken to its home at Wichita State University. The response to the sculpture was so positive, with large crowds coming out to see it, that Indiana began to make more.

There are now versions of the LOVE sculpture in many cities throughout the U.S, Europe and Asia. There are Spanish versions and a Hebrew version in Jerusalem.

Tough LOVE in Philly

Last week, about three hundred people waited in line at Philadelphia’s LOVE Park to buy a 3 x 3 inch piece of granite, salvaged during the park’s renovation, carved with Robert Indiana’s LOVE design. But the crowd was turned away because city officials said they didn’t have the proper permission to sell the LOVE bricks and would have to work out copyright issues with Indiana.

One of Indiana’s LOVE sculptures, which has been in Philadelphia since 1976, was removed for restoration during the park’s renovation. Indiana’s representatives told city officials that it had been painted the wrong color during the last restoration … thirty years ago. The original colors of the sculpture were red, green and purple. Possibly because the purple faded, conservationists painted the sculpture red, green and light blue. The LOVE sculpture is scheduled to go back to the park at the beginning of 2018.

Bitten by LOVE

For all the ubiquity of the LOVE symbol, Indiana, as its creator, has remained relatively unknown, except in art circles. “Everybody knows my LOVE,” he said in a 1976 interview, “but they don’t have the slightest idea what I look like. I’m practically anonymous.”

LOVE didn’t make him rich or famous. He didn’t copyright his design and he had a hard time getting a patent because trademark courts refused to grant a copyright for a single word. So, LOVE flooded the market on mugs, t-shirts and paperweights and critics, wrongly accused him of being a commercial sell-out.

Robert Indiana became a recluse, living and working on the remote island of Vinalhaven, Maine. “LOVE bit me,” he said in an NPR interview. Still, the work of one of America’s finest artists and printmakers, conjures good feelings and is one of the world’s most loved symbols.

Robert Indiana at VFA

Please contact us for more information about LOVE, or any of the other work by Robert Indiana for sale at VFA.

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