I had heard that the French artist whose work we saw on the slopes of Val d’Isere, Robert Orlinsky, was inspired by the LOVE sculptures of Robert Indiana, an American artist. I decided to take a closer look at these iconic pieces of public art which appear in many cities worldwide. I personally have seen two of these sculptures – in New York and Philadelphia – many times.
Philadelphia’s Love Park
Phladelphia’s Love Park, officially named JFK Plaza, is popularly nicknamed for the Robert Indiana sculpture. Although not very big, the sculpture made out of Cor-Ten steel dominates the park. At Christmas time, the official Christmas tree for Philadelphia is also displayed at Love Park.
We saw Philly Jesus at Love Park in Philadelphia. I mean where else would he hang out, right? In fact, Philly Jesus is a regular at Love Park, has trademarked his name and is on twitter. It wouldn’t surprise you to learn that he was at a Bernie Sanders support rally would it?
— philly jesus™ 2016 (@phillyjesus) July 31, 2016
The Love Sculptures of Robert Indiana
Robert Indiana actually did the LOVE design for the Museum of Modern Art in New York City as a Christmas card in 1958. (I’m telling you the MoMA gift store is wonderful!).
If you wanted to be a romantic, then you would read the O is at an angle in order to lead your eye towards the V on the bottom. Moreover, the tilted O makes the sculpture less than perfect to convey the idea that love is imperfect.
Alternatively, the negative space in the O can also be seen as an erect penis or even a cat’s eye.
The cards did so well he created the sculptures. The design became wildly popular in the 1960’s with the countercultural movement shouting for love and peace. The U.S. post office even made it into a stamp.
Unfortunately, Robert Indiana did not copyright his work because he didn’t want to ruin the lines of the piece with his name on it. He has made very little money off this iconic piece of art even though everyone assumed he was raking in the money. So for the sake of his craft, Robert Indiana lost a lot of money.
Although the design was famous, few people knew that Robert Indiana was the artist. So he didn’t get public recognition. On the other hand, he lost a lot of credibility in the serious art circles for being a sellout. Robert Indiana should’ve taken the money right?
In many ways, Love for Indiana was the zenith of his success and also the instrument of his artistic decline. Ironic, no? Love can make and break you.
Love Sculptures Around The World
Did you know that Robert Indiana’s LOVE sculpture has been found all over the world? And, in different languages. Wikipedia has a list of where you can find the various LOVE sculptures around the world.
This sculpture spells out the word, Ahava, which means love in Hebrew. It is located outside of Israel Museum in Jurasalem.
Here is a Spanish version.
Look out for LOVE next time you are travelling!