While all eyes were on the royal wedding and feeling the LOVE, ironically, the man who made the iconic words art quietly passed away. Robert Indiana, who's real name was Robert Clark, left this world on Saturday, but left behind a legacy of highly recognizable art works.
Unfortunately, his LOVE series became so commercially successful, it overshadowed almost everything else he did. His number series was also highly praised.
Robert liked words, words and numbers, that usually came from signs. He lived in 19 different houses over a 21 year period. He was always looking at houses with this mother, so it became house #1, house #2.... Signage captivated his attention because they referenced messages. He and his art is very much about Friendship, Love and Truth.
Fallen wood outside his front door inspired his totem sculptures. "How could I not pick it up?" Robert remarked. The assemblages were inspired by his love of graphic text, primary color, Greek and Roman classical antiquity.
When Alfred Barr (the director of MOMA) came calling, it was 1965 and MOMA wanted Indiana to reproduce the LOVE design for a holiday card. The rest, as they say, is history.
The stacking of the letters and with its "jaunty O" has a rhythm, a musicality, that really resonated with people as much for its graphic image as for its message. This was completely original, nobody had seen a tipped "O" or a word in block before.
LOVE was turned into AHAVA in Jerusalem, and AMOR in France.
What does love mean to you?
His works are an interplay between the verbal and the visual.
Interestingly, when the interviewer asked Robert what his colleagues thought, he said artists are insecure by nature, they were terribly jealous and walked away from him. Robert, disillusioned, eventually became reclusive.
Indiana never trademarked his LOVE art. Therefore, he was never able to capitalize off of all the reproductions! A retrospective in 2013 at the Whitney titled "Beyond LOVE" sought to keep Indiana relevant. There was fear his reclusiveness made him an easy target to be taken advantage of. Lawsuits were filed days before his death, so unfortunately his death is mired in controversy.
RIP Robert Indiana