Robert Indiana is an American artist associated with the Pop Art movement and its last living legend with the same degree of importance and influence as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.
Indiana was born Robert Clark in New Castle, Indiana on September 13, 1928. One of the pre-eminent figures of American art, since the 1960’s, Robert Indiana has been a pioneer of assemblage art, hard-edge abstraction and pop art.
Over the past five decades, Robert Indiana’s work has explored the power of abstraction and language, American identity and personal history. As a self-proclaimed “American painter of signs,” Indiana gained international renown in the early 1960’s for employing the vernacular form of American road and shop signs, combining it with a sophisticated formal and conceptual approach that turned this familiar vocabulary into something entirely new.
His distinctive rendering of LOVE, in paintings, sculptures and prints, has become an icon of 20th-century art.
An American Pop Art Legend
Indiana’s artwork has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions around the world, and his work is included in the permanent collection of many important museums, such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and the Smithsonian Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C., the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Menil Collection in Houston, Texas, the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Germany, Stedelijk van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, Netherlands, the Museum Ludwig in Vienna, Austria, the Shanghai Art Museum in China, and the Israel Museum, Jerusalem.
He has also been included in numerous international publications, including a number of monographs dedicated to his work.
Indiana moved to New York City in 1954 and joined the pop art movement, using distinctive imagery drawing on commercial art approaches blended with existentialism, that gradually moved toward what Indiana calls “sculptural poems”. Indiana’s work often consists of bold, simple, iconic images, especially numbers and short words like “EAT”, “HUG”, and “LOVE”.
He is also known for painting the unique basketball court formerly used by the Milwaukee Bucks in that city’s U.S. Cellular Arena, with a large M shape taking up each half of the court. Robert Indiana has been a theatrical set and costume designer, such as the 1976 production by the Santa Fe Opera of Virgil Thomson’s The Mother of Us All, based on the life of suffragist Susan B. Anthony.
After the September 11, 2001 attacks, Indiana produced a series of Peace Paintings, which were exhibited in New York in 2004. Despite his early success at the center of the art world, Indiana retreated to rural obscurity in later life. Indiana has lived as a resident in the island town of Vinalhaven, Maine since 1978.
The UBIQUITOUS “LOVE” WITH THE TILTED ‘O’
LOVE stamp Indiana’s best known image is the word “LOVE” in a square with a tilted “O”. This image, first created for a Christmas card for the Museum of Modern Art in 1964, was included on an 8 cent United States Postal Service postage stamp in 1973, the first of their regular series of “love stamps.” Sculpture versions are on display at: Sixth Avenue in New York City; the Pratt Institute campus in Brooklyn, NY; the Indianapolis Museum of Art; Scottsdale’s Civic Center, in so called “LOVE Park” in Philadelphia, the New Orleans Museum of Art’s sculpture garden, on the University of Pennsylvania campus, at the Museum of Modern Art at Brigham Young University, on the campus of Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, and outside the Taipei 101 tower in Taiwan.
There is also a “Love” Sculpture at the Red Rock Resort Spa and Casino in Las Vegas in the pool area. There is also in Shinjuku Tokyo JAPAN, as well as on the world-famous Orchard Road, Singapore. Copyright status The image has been reproduced in countless times in varying forms, including sculptures, posters, and 3-D desk ornaments. It has been translated into Hebrew, Chinese, and Spanish.
It strongly influenced the original cover of Love Story, the Erich Segal novel. It was parodied on the Rage Against the Machine album cover for Renegades, as well as the cover for Oasis’ single Little by Little from the 2002 album Heathen Chemistry. Recently it has been parodied by London artist D*Face with his “HATE”, the “A” tilted similarly.
The LOVE emblem has been adopted by skateboarders, frequently used in skateboard magazines and videos. After skateboarding was banned in Philadelphia’s LOVE Park, the emblem was used by organizations opposing the ban.
2013: A Year of Robert Indiana rediscovery and retrospective exhibitions
A Robert Indiana “Beyond Love” major retrospective exhibition opened at the Whitney Museum (NYC) in September 2013 – and sculptures of his iconic “LOVE” and “Numbers” appeared in the City of London the same year.