LOVE (Blue/Green)

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Artist - Robert Indiana
Born - 1928
Origin - America
Year Built - 1980

About the Artist:  Robert Indiana studied at the John Herron School of Art-Indianapolis in 1946, the Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute in Utica, New York in 1947, and the Art Institute of Chicago from 1949-53. He then studied abroad at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland in 1953-54. When Indiana returned to New York, he looked to his childhood for artistic inspiration. His family moved frequently, leaving Robert with distinct memories of American highway culture: the advertisements and logos of gasoline stations and roadside diners. As an artist, Indiana explored the compositional styles of advertising and particularly the emphasis on words. Using the typographic style of some stencils he found in his Coenties Slip, New York loft, he began a series of paintings based on monosyllabic words. LOVE, 1966 (Indianapolis Museum of Art) was Indiana's most notable work in this vein. The artist offered a spiritual explanation for the creation of LOVE: "The reason I became so involved in [it] is that it is so much a part of the peculiar American environment, particularly my own background, which was Christian Scientitst. "God is Love" is spelled out in every church." In turn, the tilted "O" of the LOVE icon conveys eternity through its never-ending circle. Soon after Indiana completed the painting, he began work on an outdoor sculpture of LOVE. He retained the stacking of the letters in the first aluminum version of 1966 (Whitney Museum of American Art), yet discarded the red, blue, and green colors of the painting. In the 1970 cor-ten version (Indianapolis Museum of Art), color was again omitted from the finished product, although subsequent versions of the sculpture have included one to two of the three colors of the painting. The 1980 version on the Wichita State University campus is colored in blue and green, the background colors of the 1966 painting.

The LOVE icon has become one of the most recognizable images in popular culture. Appearing on t-shirts, posters, and even the three-cent stamp in the early 1970s, the icon has appealed to Americans' nostalgic reminiscences of the late 1960s. Indiana never copyrighted the image, so he saw little gain from its reproduction. Nevertheless, it remains one of the defining images of his career, and the work for which he is popularly known.