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New York City NYC
February 14, 2017

A Valentine’s Day Tribute to NYC’s LOVE Sculpture

“Love loves to love love.” -James Joyce

It is only a five minute walk from our office to the famous Midtown LOVE sculpture, located at 6th Avenue and 55th Street. This Valentines Day, we pay homage to this icon, and its importance in American history.

Robert Indiana is the man behind the LOVE. In the 1950’s, Indiana developed an interest in illuminated manuscripts and began to incorporate lettering into his artwork. As his influence on the emerging pop art movement grew, he began experimenting with a square version of the word LOVE where the LO are stacked on top of the VE. In 1965, the MOMA commissioned him to do a version of LOVE for their Christmas Card. The card was a sensation, and soon LOVE became the subject of a popular stamp, a hit 1966 New York art show, and numerous statues around the world.

LOVE perfectly captured the zeitgeist of the 1960’s hippie movement. As the symbol developed a life of its own, the man who created the symbol faded from recognition. Indiana himself noted that “Everybody knows my love, but…I’m practically anonymous.”

Indiana had felt a copyright symbol would detract from the simplicity of the LOVE image. As a result, he did not profit off of the massive success of his creation. Eventually, he retreated to Maine where he lived quietly for many years. In 2008, Indiana brought his LOVE out of retirement when he used this image as the basis for a red, white and blue HOPE statue which was unveiled in front of the Democratic National Convention. HOPE, which Indiana called a “very close family member” to LOVE, became itself an iconic image that captured the exuberance of the Obama campaign and the symbolic importance of the countries first African American presidency.

This evening, when we leave the office and walk by our local LOVE sculpture, we will pause a moment to give thanks for Robert Indiana and his ability to transform simple ideographs into influential art.