Saturday 11 June 2011

Robert Indiana - part 1

This is the first of a two-part post on the works of American artist Robert Indiana. This first part takes a look at his most famous iconographic piece - LOVE. The second part will have many more examples of Indiana's other works.
Robert Indiana was born Robert Clark in New Castle, Indiana. He moved to New York 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".

In 1962 the Stable Gallery in New York hosted Robert Indiana's first solo exhibition. He has since enjoyed solo exhibitions at over 30 museums and galleries worldwide. His works are in the permanent collections of numerous museums, including Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Stedelijk Museum, Schiedam, The Netherlands; Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh; Detroit Institute of Art, Michigan; Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland; Brandeis Museum, Waltham, Massachusetts; Albright-Knox Gallery of Art, Buffalo, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California, the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington D.C.; Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and the Los Angeles County Museum, California, among others.

Indiana's work often consists of bold, simple, iconic images, especially numbers and short words like EAT and HUG. His best known image is the word LOVE in upper-case letters, arranged in a square with a tilted letter O. The iconography first appeared in a series of poems originally written in 1958, in which he stacked LO and VE on top of one another.

 The first serigraph/silk screen of "Love" was printed as part of an exhibition poster for Stable Gallery in 1966. A few examples of the rare image, in bold blue and green with a red bottom announcing "Stable May 66" are known to exist. Twentyfive of these, without the red announcement, were signed and dated on the reverse by Indiana.

1966 Stable Gallery poster

In 1973 it was featured on an eight-cent United States Postal Service postage stamp, the first of their regular series of "love stamps." 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

1973 Postage Stamp

In 1995, Indiana created a 'Heliotherapy Love' series of 300 silk screen prints signed and numbered by the artist, which surrounds the iconic love image in a bright yellow border. These prints are the largest official printed version of the Love image.

1995 Heliotherapy LOVE 

In 2008 Indiana created an image similar to his iconic LOVE but this time showcasing the word "HOPE," and donated all proceeds from the sale of reproductions of his image to Democrat Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, raising in excess of $1,000,000. A stainless steel sculpture of HOPE was unveiled outside Denver's Pepsi Center during the 2008 Democratic National Convention. The Obama campaign sold T-shirts, pins, bumper stickers, posters, pins and other items adorned with HOPE. Editions of the sculpture have been released and sold internationally and the artist himself has called HOPE "Love's close relative".

2008 HOPE

For Valentine's Day 2011 Indiana created a similar variation on LOVE for Google, which was displayed in place of the search engine site's normal logo.

2011 Google logo

Here are some other versions of LOVE made over the years:

1972 Great American LOVE

1973 Golden LOVE 

1975 The American LOVE 
enamel on metal

1996 The Book of LOVE 6 


  1. Hi Paul,

    I think I may have one of the 'rare' images you referred to of the "Stable 66" in green and blue bold serigraphs. Would you suggest I just go to a local appraiser?

  2. Hi Paul,

    I think I may have one of the 'rare' images you referred to of the "Stable 66" in green and blue bold serigraphs. Would you suggest I just go to a local appraiser?


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