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Indiana, Robert Love, 1970


In the movement in art referred to as Pop Art, which developed in the 1960s, artists took images, words, and symbols from everyday life and incorporated them into paintings, prints, and sculptures, thus elevating them to the status of fine art and blurring the line between high art and popular culture.

Robert Indiana used common words such as EAT and LOVE as the bases for his art. The first LOVE sculpture was inspired by a visit to a Christian Science church in Indianapolis, where Indiana saw a banner that read “GOD is LOVE.” In 1966, his LOVE series opened at the Stable Gallery in New York City and quickly became an icon of the Pop Art movement, much to the artist’s surprise. According to Indiana, “LOVE was an accident. . . . I had no idea it would catch on the way it did and I wasn’t even particularly thinking about the Love generation and hippies and so forth.” Love is a theme that is expressed in much of his work. Indiana has elaborated on that: “The basic principles regarding God’s love for spiritual man taught to me as a child are still affecting my thinking—and, obviously, my work.”

  • Love, 1970
  • 144″ x 144″ x 72″
  • Indianapolis Museum of Art
  • Keywords: sculptures, forging (metal forming), Cor-Ten® steel
  • Subjects: Pop Art

The first LOVE sculpture was carved out of a solid block of aluminum, highly polished. This LOVE sculpture, which weighs 3 tons and stands 12 feet high, is made of Cor- Ten® steel, an industrial material that was a revolutionary new medium for sculpture in 1970. Developed by the U.S. Steel Company, “Cor-Ten® resists the corrosive effects of rain, snow, ice, fog, and other meteorological conditions by forming a coating of dark brown oxidation over the metal, which inhibits deeper penetration and negates the need for painting and costly rust-prevention maintenance over the years. This metal is commonly seen in bridge supports, guard rails, and other outside structures.”

Some Points to Consider

  • Ask students why they think the LOVE icon by Robert Indiana is so widely appreciated and circulated. (Art 4.1.3)
  • Ask students why they think the artist made the sculpture so large. Have them do research to find if there are other sizes available. (Art 4.3.2)
  • Point out to students that many of Robert Indiana’s works include letters, numbers, or words. Ask: What might that tell you about his philosophy for making art? (4.4.1)