Love is just a four letter word, but to Robert Indiana, an American painter and sculptor who sadly passed away on May 19th 2018, love was actually more than just a four letter word. Love was his work. Love was his duty. His birth name was actually Robert Clark but he changed his name to Robert Indiana as a tribute to the state where he was born New Castle Indiana.
Indiana died while at this home in Maine. His death came a day after a controversy emerged over control of his work, with a federal lawsuit alleging that he had been isolated from his loved ones and that his art had been exploited for profit.
You may be wondering how love can be somebody’s work. Well, Indiana created different works but the iconic LOVE images were what he will be best remembered for. This takes us to the question, among all the different artworks, why did this legend choose love? This is because for him, painting and creating sculptures of love were more meaningful than creating anything else. His ultimate dream was that love would cover the world, people would love each other no matter the situation. His life history as an artist is for sure an unforgettable one.
Every artist has a different way of describing his work and for Indiana he perceived his work in three Cs:commemorative, celebratory, and colorful. Wow! This is undeniably a very unique way of describing his work; because in whatever way you understand the word “love” it all adds up to the fact that it celebrates, commemorates and it is also colorful.
Indiana developed interest in art while he was still very young and later on attended School of the Art Institute in Chicago. However, his interest was greatly encouraged by his 1st grade teacher who thrilled him when she asked to keep a few of his drawings because she knew he would one day become a famous artist one day. Surprisingly, the words of the teacher turned into reality and Indiana has died a famous artist for his works.
His works often consisted of bold, simple and iconic images, especially numbers and short words like: EAT, which was the last word his mother said before she died; HUG, which was his mother’s word for affection and his best known one, LOVE. Basically his creations came into existence based on his own life experiences.
Amongst all his iconic images LOVE caught the eye of many people who probably never even realized that it was an artwork. But yes it was indeed an artwork.
The work LOVE began in the early 60s as a Christmas card commissioned by the Museum of modern Art and it attracted the attention of many because love is among the core human emotions. Indiana, used different contrasting colors to highlight LOVE; Red, Blue and Green. These were not just mere colors; they had a meaning in his life. The colors red and green came from the Philips 66 gas sign where his father worked and when he died, Indiana used the colors as a way to remember his dad.
Decades later after creating LOVE, the message now stands in great cities like: New York, Philadelphia, Tokyo and Singapore. In some cases the message remains in its original form while in others it has been translated to other languages like Spanish and Hebrew among others.
Indiana may not have been fully impressed by the turnout that LOVE was taking because he thought the world of art was shunning him, but the bright side of this is that his original message is spreading in the world and in this way his goal of LOVE covering the world is slowly bearing fruits.