Sunday, November 13, 2016

3D Four Letter Words: Robert Indiana’s LOVE Sculptures in the 1970s

LOVE sculpture, by Robert Indiana, 1970.

Robert Indiana (formerly Robert Clark) first expressed the essential iconography of “LOVE” in 1958 but it wasn’t until 1964 that the image garnered wide public notice, via a Christmas card commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. One of the first three-dimensional LOVE sculptures has stood, since 1970, in front of the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Like many metal artworks designed to stand out in the open, the IMA’s LOVE sculpture is made from Cor-ten steel, an alloy that weathers to a rich, slightly iridescent, purplish-brown patina after years of seasonal changes. The sculpture measures 12′ x 12′ x 6′ and has recently undergone a structural and aesthetic restoration.

Photograph of “LOVE” in the making in North Haven, Connecticut. Photo by Tom Rummler.

An early photo documenting the fabrication process of Robert Indiana’s LOVE.

The E from the Love Sculpture by Robert Indiana, 1970.

There are currently around 50 LOVE sculptures installed in public and private spaces worldwide. Some are better-known than others, mainly due to their proximity to pedestrian traffic. One of the first NYC LOVE sculptures was installed at 59th Street and 5th Avenue in 1971, while perhaps the most prominent NYC LOVE sculpture stands at the corner of 6th Avenue and 55th Street in Manhattan.

The O of the Love Sculpture by Robert Indiana lowered into place at 5th Ave and 60th St, New York, 1971. Photo by Don Hogan Charles, 1970.

Robert Indiana with his LOVE sculpture in Central Park, New York City, 1971. Photo by Jack Mitchell/Getty Images.

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