Robert Indiana first created his iconic LOVE imagery as a design for a holiday card for the Museum of Modern Art in 1965, and few images since have captivated the public imagination so thoroughly. Blending word and image, Indiana recognized language as a functional element of art, employing simple words with numerous associations and interpretations. It became the symbol of a generation in 1960s and ‘70s American counterculture. Indiana created the first sculpture of this stacked-letter design in 1970, and now over 50 variations of it populate public spaces worldwide: from Indianapolis to New York City to Tokyo. Calling himself the “American painter of signs,” Indiana’s work incorporated elements of Pop art and hard-edge painting, exploring the American identity with brightly colored compositions of letters and numbers that resembled advertisements and commercial graphics. He is among the most influential artists of 1960s American art, alongside Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, and Ed Ruscha.
Indiana’s work has become a pervasive visuality in American culture. Bright and bold, his LOVE sculpture speaks to viewers through shared cultural touchstones and word associations. Indiana’s work is held in important museum collections worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, which features a Cor-Ten steel LOVE sculpture in Hebrew. The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York organized a major retrospective of the artist’s work in 2013 called Robert Indiana: Beyond Love.