10 Things You Might Not Know About the Iconic LOVE Sculpture and its Creator


It's that time of year again--heart-shaped candy has already started filling the aisles at our local grocery stores, so we thought it was time to get in the spirit of love! However, before we learn about Robert Indiana's iconic LOVE sculpture, let's talk about an upcoming opportunity at Kentuck to show yourself some love by taking time for YOU on a Creation Vacation!


Creation Vacation is a series of workshops for adults of all levels who want to try their hand at something creative. Saturday, February 2 from 1–3pm or Tuesday, February 7 from 6–8pm, we’ll create some love-inspired wire sculpture. This class is instructed by Kentuck Staff Member Sherri Warner and is a recurring series with a new topic each week. (For details, go to www.kentuck.org/workshops.)


Now, about the LOVE sculpture...

Photograph from https://www.moma.org/collection/works/68726

1. LOVE for MoMA Christmas

The sculpture was created by artist Robert Indiana. The artist began experimenting with the design in 1958. He translated the idea into paintings, and in 1965, he hit pay dirt when the Museum of Modern Art commissioned him to do a version of LOVE for a Christmas card, which became one of the museum's most popular items.


2. John Lennon's Influence

When John Lennon, viewing an exhibition from this series, commented that "all you need is love," he amplified Indiana's statement, transforming it into a hit Beatles anthem and oft-repeated refrain.


Love sculpture in Hebrew displayed at the Israel Museum. 1977. https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3645528

3. LOVE is International

Versions of the sculpture now exist in Hebrew, Chinese, Italian, and Spanish, as well as the original English. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Love_sculptures for a complete list of existing LOVE sculptures.


From https://www.visitphilly.com/things-to-do/attractions/love-statue/

4. Philly loves LOVE

The LOVE sculpture has become synonymous with the City of Philadelphia. The sculpture was first brought to Philly in 1976 and displayed on loan as part of their Bicentennial celebrations. Indiana took the sculpture back two years later when the city declined to purchase it. In 1978, Philadelphia businessman, F. Eugene “Fitz” Dixon, purchased the sculpture for $35,000 and donated it to the City of Philadelphia.


By Robert Indiana for United States Postal Service - same jpg image https://gpidesign.com/images/Love-Stamp-Icon-Graphic.jpg linked from this USPS webpage, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3019318

5. Was Indiana in it for the LOVE or the money?

The LOVE sculpture has been recreated in paintings, postcards, T-shirts, and postage stamps, and almost ruined Indiana’s career! Many art collectors and critics dismissed him as a sell-out, and some major museums stopped collecting his work. One newspaper reviewer even suggested that Indiana's next word-art should depict MONEY.


A photograph taken by Tom Rummier of Robert Indiana’s LOVE sculpture being fabricated North Haven, CT, in 1970. From http://www.dailyjournal.net/2016/12/31/restoring_an_icon/

6. No Money from Copycats

Due to copyright laws in 1964, Indiana had no legal protection against imitators, and he received almost no money from copycats.


Photo: Alec Rogers for the Association for Public Art. From https://www.associationforpublicart.org/artwork/love

7. February 2018: Restored to Former Glory

In February 2018, Philadelphia’s LOVE returned to public viewing after restoration, but with a new color scheme of red, green, and purple. The City of Philadelphia discovered that sections of the sculpture had been incorrectly painted blue during previous restorations.


Robert Indiana created the work HOPE for Barack Obama's election campaign Photo: JOEL GREENBERG. From https://www.theartnewspaper.com/feature/how-new-york-fell-back-in-love-with-robert-indiana

8. HOPE 2008

Additionally, Indiana is remembered for his re-creation, “HOPE,” which was used by President Barack Obama’s campaign and the 2008 Democratic National Convention.


Robert Indiana. (AP Photo/Lauren Casselberry.) From https://www.phillymag.com/news/2018/05/22/love-sculpture-creator-robert-indiana-dies/

9. Once an Icon, Now a Legend

Robert Indiana died at the age of 89 on May 19, 2018.


Robert Indiana with his LOVE sculpture in Central Park, New York City in 1971. From https://wnep.com/2018/05/23/robert-indiana-the-pop-artist-behind-philadelphias-love-sculpture-dies-at-89/

10. Until Death do Us... Sue?

The day before Indiana died, a company sued the artist and several associates for copyright infringement. Read the story here: https://www.citylab.com/design/2018/05/who-owns-love/560906/.


Want to learn even more about Robert Indiana and the LOVE sculpture? Check out these great resources:

https://www.associationforpublicart.org/artwork/love/

http://robertindiana.com/

https://www.theartstory.org/artist-indiana-robert-artworks.htm

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Show yourself some love—take some time for yourself on a Creation Vacation. This series of workshops is for adults of all levels who want to try their hand at something creative. Saturday, February 2 from 1–3pm or Tuesday, February 7 from 6–8pm, we’ll create some love-inspired wire sculpture. This class is a recurring series with new topics each week! For details, go to www.kentuck.org/workshops.

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© 2020 by Kentuck Art Center.

Kentuck Art Center and Festival was established in 1971. Kentuck's mission is to perpetuate the arts, engage the community, and empower the artist. The Kentuck Festival of the Arts is held annually in October, and during that weekend, makes a $5.5 million economic impact on its community.

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