• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 1998

    Post -War And Contemporary Art Morning Session

    14 May 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 167

    Robert Indiana (b. 1928)

    Love (Day and Night)

    Price Realised  


    Robert Indiana (b. 1928)
    Love (Day and Night)
    signed, inscribed and dated in stencil 'INDIANA 2 NEW YORK 67' (on the reverse)
    oil on canvas
    24 x 24 in. (61 x 61 cm.)
    Painted in 1967.

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    This work will be included in the Robert Indiana Catalogue raisonné being prepared by Simon Salama-Caro.

    Love (Day and Night) is one of the five Love images chosen by the artist for his box of notecards published in 1997 by Fotofolio/Artpost.

    "I had no idea LOVE would catch on the way it did. Oddly enough I wasn't thinking at all about anticipating the Love generation and hippies. It was a spiritual concept." (R. Indiana, Indiana's Indianas, exh. cat., Farnsworth Museum, 1982, p. 8)

    Executed in 1967, LOVE (Day and Night) is a seminal piece in Robert Indiana's oeuvre. Experimenting with an array of colors and themes, Indiana's LOVE paintings provide him with the medium to communicate a multitude of emotional vibrations through pop-visual tropes of sixties abstraction, notably the use of broad areas of pure color, optical effects, serialization, and a consciousness of edge. LOVE (Day and Night) immediately recalls the influence of close friend and mentor Ellsworth Kelly, who had initially exposed Indiana to the union of clean-edged abstract forms with pure color. Choosing the simple but stark palette of black and white Indiana reminds the viewer of his close connection to the printed word and his journalistic background.

    Within a traditionally difficult canvas shape, the square, the four-letter word written in capitalized classic Roman letter style is divided into two pairs of two letters arranged on two levels, exactly dividing the square into quarters. As the letters fill the canvas from edge to edge, word and image become equal, and figure and ground coextensive. Partly rooted in love poems written by Indiana in the fifties and mid sixties, the four-square LOVE was conceived as a series and not confined to a particular materialization. Indiana originally developed the idea to use the word LOVE as a visual image in 1966. Recalling the memories of his childhood, spent in Christian Scientist churches, Indiana has commented that the word 'Love' could be found inscribed on the walls in the slogan 'G-d is Love.' Containing both a universal meaning and a visually direct and terse quality 'Love' provided him with the perfect synthesis of word and image, representing a concept central to his art.

    Appropriated in a multitude of ways, Robert Indiana's LOVE has become part of a universal language. It is one of the most pervasive and widely disseminated graphic images of all time. Frequently adopted and adapted LOVE has become one of the most significant logos of popular culture in the Twentieth Century. Formalist and cool, yet a great signifier of emotion, Indiana's LOVE (Day and Night) stands impressively as both a testament to the artist's simple brilliance and profound spiritual desire.


    Virginia Lust Gallery, New York, acquired from the artist
    Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1989


    New York, Virginia Lust Gallery, Robert Indiana, 1989.