LOVE says it all…in Art (Indiana)

Cher’s Famous Art

09 December 2020


Robert Indiana, 1966, Pop Art, American

Travel Tip: LOVE in Minnesota

Happy Anniversary!

I’ve selected this artwork this week in dedication to my great husband – with LOVE on our 43rd Anniversary, Dec 9! Wow!  That is a LOT of years! And a lot of LOVE!

LOVE in Needlepoint

 I love and have seen this artwork in both 2D and 3D.  It reminds me of my time living in NYC in the late 60’s when it first came out on the Christmas card of the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art, NYC).  It was used in memorabilia everywhere!

LOVE needlepoint done for me by a friend, my colors!

LOVE is everywhere!

LOVE metal storage container that I’ve treasured for the past 50 years! Major MoMA purchase!

LOVE In Philadelphia and on a New York City Street Corner

My favorite sculpture is in NYC (55th & 6th Ave), but versions can be found all over the world. One is, appropriately, in the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia. One of my former students was working in Philadelphia and her boyfriend fly out from Minneapolis to propose to her under this iconic sculpture! (What was really fun for me was that she was so excited to share it with me because we had studied about it in class!)

The original LOVE painting was 6’ x 6’ and the design used on the 1965 Christmas card for the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art, NYC).  The sculpture made its debut in 1970 as did its presence on a US postage stamp.  

LOVE Postage

The original LOVE sculpture is currently housed by the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the artist’s home state and from which he took the name, Robert Indiana. Unlike the original painting and most of the sculptures, it is metal and has a whole different look. For more details on this piece, check out the museum’s website link

Indiana would create over 50 editions of the sculpture for sites around the world including: New York City, Philadelphia (City of Brotherly Love), Singapore and Taipei.  The pieces vary in scale and color palette, they are all rendered in the artist’s signature serifed font style and always incorporate a tilted character, even when written in another language or spelling out a different word, such as HOPE.

God is LOVE

Indiana’s LOVE quickly became a symbol of the flower-powered ‘60s; it persisted as a pop symbol and a vivid reminder of the core human emotion.  However, the idea did not begin with the idea of love between individuals, but rather began with God’s love.  As a youth, he was inspired by the words “God is Love” on the walls of his church.

While he used a wide range of contrasting colors to highlight his various versions of LOVE, the colors of the first one were very personal to Indiana.  The red and the green came from the Philips 66 gas sign; his father worked for Philips 66 and the color combination fixed itself in his mind.  His dad died in 1965, the year he began making the LOVE paintings. The red and green of the MoMA LOVE painting, silhouetted against the blue Indiana sky, is in memorial of his father. Other works by Indiana are reminders of his mother.  One-word pieces with her in mind include: HUG (his mother’s word for affection), EAT (the last word she said before she died) and DIE.

Interestingly, the artist did not enjoy the mainstream fame this iconic LOVE brought him. In 2014, he told NPR “It was a marvelous idea, but it was also a terrible mistake.  It became too popular… there are people who don’t like popularity.  It’s better to be exclusive and remote.  That’s why I’m on an island off the coast of Maine, you see.”  

While he created many other works, his general theme is how he was able to harness the power of words to develop his signature style in all his sculptures.

TRAVEL TIP: For a local Minnesota LOVE experience, or for those traveling to the great city of Minneapolis, there is a version at the new Minneapolis Sculpture Garden by the Walker Art Center (725 Vineland) FREE and open 365 days/year, even during the pandemic shut downs.

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