LOVE (1976)

by Robert Indiana (1928 - 2018)

Photo Caption: Photo: Alec Rogers for the Association for Public Art
15th Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard
1976

  • Title

    LOVE

  • Artist

    Robert Indiana (1928 - 2018)

  • Year

    1976

  • Medium

    Painted aluminum, on stainless steel base

  • Dimensions

    Height 6′; width 6′; depth 3′ (base height 7′, width 8', depth 4')

Gift of F. Eugene Dixon to the City of Philadelphia

Owned by the City of Philadelphia


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At A Glance

  • Part of the Museum Without Walls™: AUDIO program

  • For the U.S. Bicentennial in 1976, Robert Indiana lent the city a large aluminum sculpture of his “love” image

  • Indiana first produced this design as a painting in 1964

  • F. Eugene Dixon, local businessman and then chairman of the Philadelphia Art Commission, purchased the work and donated it to the city

For the bicentennial celebration in 1976, Robert Indiana lent the city a large aluminum sculpture of his “love” image. Indiana first produced this design as a painting in 1964, and within a few years it had been used on a U.S. postage stamp and innumerable unauthorized jewelry, posters, and plates.

An uproar ensued…local media demanded to know why the sculpture had been allowed to slip away.

The sculpture was installed in John F. Kennedy Plaza not far from City Hall, and for two years after the bicentennial it remained there on “extended loan.”

During that time Indiana’s gallery in New York tried to sell the work to the city. When the sale could not be arranged, the gallery had a truck remove LOVE to New York, where a potential buyer was interested in seeing it.

People taking pictures with newly restored LOVE sculpture
Photo Alec Rogers © 2018 for the Association for Public Art

An uproar ensued. The Philadelphia Inquirer and other local media demanded to know why the sculpture had been allowed to slip away.

F. Eugene Dixon, local businessman and then chairman of the Philadelphia Art Commission, purchased the work and donated it to the city, and soon it was reinstalled in the Plaza, now affectionately referred to as LOVE Park.

In February 2018, after a year out of public view for conservation and to allow for the redesign of LOVE Park, LOVE returned to the plaza but with a new color scheme of red, green, and purple – not blue. The City of Philadelphia discovered that sections of the sculpture had been incorrectly painted blue during previous restorations. Representatives of the artist informed the City of the original color scheme and archival photographs from Temple University confirmed the original use of purple instead of blue.

 

RESOURCES:

 

Museum Without Walls logo: a program of the Association for Public Art

 

Voices heard in the program:

Robert Indiana (1928 – 2018) was an American painter and sculptor who created the iconic LOVE sculpture.

Adrian Dannatt is the author of Robert Indiana: Hard Edge and Robert Indiana: Wood.

Segment Producer: Lu Olkowski

A program of the Association for Public Art (formerly the Fairmount Park Art Association), Museum Without Walls™: AUDIO is an innovative and accessible outdoor sculpture audio program for Philadelphia’s preeminent collection of public art.

User calls Museum Without Walls Audio for Robert Indiana's LOVE sculpture
Photo Albert Yee © 2010 for the Association for Public Art

A “multi-platform” interactive audio experience – available for free by cell phone, mobile app, audio download, or on the web – Museum Without Walls™: AUDIO offers the unique histories that are not typically expressed on outdoor permanent signage.

Unlike audio tours that have a single authoritative guide or narrator, each speaker featured in Museum Without Walls™: AUDIO is an “authentic voice” – someone who is connected to the sculpture by knowledge, experience, or affiliation. Over 150 unique voices are featured, including artists, educators, scientists, writers, curators, civic leaders, and historians.

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This artwork is part of the Along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway tour, and the Around City Hall tour.

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