Although he called himself a “sign painter”, Robert Indiana is considered a veteran of the American Pop Art movement and is celebrated for his use of simple and iconic images, bold colors, numbers, and works surrounding one-syllable words. Probably best known for his “LOVE” series, which was popularized after the creation of his 1964 Christmas card for the Museum of Modern Art, Robert Indiana is also acclaimed for his contribution of the cherished “LOVE” stamp, which he originated in 1973 for the United States Postal Service. Drawing inspiration from logos, Indiana constructed many public “LOVE” sculptures throughout his career, which are exhibited in various locations throughout the U.S. Similarly, in 1977, the artist also appropriated the same image in Hebrew (“Ahava”), which stands today in Jerusalem at the Israel Museum.
Although Indiana did utilize distinct imagery that drew from a commercial art influence, he often gravitated towards generating works that uniquely combined sculpture and elements of poetry. In 2008, the artist constructed a new political series for Barack Obama’s campaign, in which he adequately coined the iconic “HOPE” symbol. Robert Indiana donated the resulting proceeds in a charitable effort to aid in the funding of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. Later he authorized “HOPE” to be used as a symbol declaring his September 28 (his birthday) National Hope Day.
After his service in the US military, Indiana pursued a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1954. Upon completing his studies, he moved to New York City at the encouragement of fellow artist and Color Field painter, Ellsworth Kelly. Eight years later in 1962, the artist held his first solo exhibition at the Stable Gallery on West 58 th Street. Aligning strongly with the Pop Art movement, the artist affiliated himself with many influential artists of the time. As the movement progressed and gained popularity over the decades, Robert Indiana experienced increased recognition for his work.
Robert Indiana, legally born Robert Clark in New Castle, Indiana, graduated valedictorian of his class. The artist passed away in 2018 in Vinalhaven, Maine, at the age of 89. Today, his works are hosted in the permanent collections of numerous museums including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Carnegie Institute.
Image: Robert Indiana Holding LOVE © William John Kennedy
For more information on Robert Indiana, please click here to visit his website.