Robert Indiana: Flashing Back to LOVE
Last weekend the world lost an American artist you're probably already familiar with: Robert Indiana (born Clark, later changing his last name to the home state of his birth). His graphic stacked letter LOVE first emerged on the scene in the form of a painting over 50 years ago, later appearing in a series of oversized sculptures (image above) thousands encounter daily on the streets of Manhattan, Philapdelphia, London, and on around the globe. LOVE even became a U.S. postage stamp (this skyrocketing fame resulted in the artist retreating to an island off the coast of Maine for the rest of his life--fascinating!).
Indiana seemed to bridge two worlds. He was a part of the Greatest Generation, joining the military in 1946 at the tail end of WWII, then used his GI Bill to attend art school. In the mid 1960s Indiana created LOVE for a series of holiday cards for the Museum of Modern Art. By 1966 it became the iconic painting with the right-tipped letter O that would resonate with the Flower Child generation. The Indianapolis Museum of Art describes LOVE as a "one word poem." Yet according to a recent article in the New York Times, there apparently was another word that auditioned for the part after Indiana's relationship with artist Ellsworth Kelly soured (do tell!). Love may stink sometimes, but Indiana's LOVE will endure forever.