ROBERT INDIANA (1928-2018)
ROBERT INDIANA (1928-2018)
ROBERT INDIANA (1928-2018)
ROBERT INDIANA (1928-2018)
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Please note that at our discretion some lots may b… Read more
ROBERT INDIANA (1928-2018)

LOVE (Red Faces Violet Sides)

ROBERT INDIANA (1928-2018)
LOVE (Red Faces Violet Sides)
stamped with the artist's signature, number, date and foundry mark ''© 1966-1999 R INDIANA 5/6' (on the inside edge of the "E")
polychrome aluminium
36 x 36 x 18in. (91.4 x 91.4 x 45.7cm.)
Conceived in 1966 and executed in 1999, this work is number five from an edition of six plus four artist's proofs
Morgan Art Foundation, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2014.
B. Amadasi, “Parole disegnante.” in Vogue Italia, no. 787 (another from the edition illustrated in colour, p. 164).
Bologna, Galleria d'Arte Maggiore, Robert Indiana, 2016 (another from the edition exhibited).
Special notice
Please note that at our discretion some lots may be moved immediately after the sale to our storage facility at Momart Logistics Warehouse: Units 9-12, E10 Enterprise Park, Argall Way, Leyton, London E10 7DQ. At King Street lots are available for collection on any weekday, 9.00 am to 4.30 pm. Collection from Momart is strictly by appointment only. We advise that you inform the sale administrator at least 48 hours in advance of collection so that they can arrange with Momart. However, if you need to contact Momart directly: Tel: +44 (0)20 7426 3000 email: This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

Brought to you by

Tessa Lord
Tessa Lord Interim Acting Head of Department

Lot Essay

Arriving in glorious Technicolor, the present work is a vivid sculptural example of one of the best-known forms in twentieth-century art: Robert Indiana’s LOVE. Realised in polychrome aluminium, it depicts the titular letters stacked in a two by two square, with the ‘O’ at a distinctive, jaunty 45-degree angle. The three-dimensional serif type is faced in red and has violet sides, heightening its bold optical depth. Indiana created his first Love painting in 1964. The following year, the Museum of Modern Art requested to use the artwork for its gift-shop Christmas cards; in 1966, Indiana held an entire show of prints, paintings and sculptures of the motif at New York’s Stable Gallery. Wild popularity and viral proliferation ensued, with Indiana’s four-letter word becoming an American Pop icon on a par with Warhol’s soup cans or Lichtenstein’s comic-book blondes. He continued to revisit the form in different formats and scales over the following decades. Some of its best-known iterations include as a beloved Valentine’s Day stamp, first issued by the US Postal Service in 1973, and monumental sculptures which can be seen in public parks and plazas around the world. Indiana is currently the subject of a major retrospective at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, on view until January 2023, where a twelve-foot version of LOVE (Red Blue Green) greets visitors at the entrance.

Indiana was born Robert Clark in New Castle, Indiana, in 1928. The cultural ephemera of his youth— he recalled a particular childhood fascination with the Phillips 66 sign at the service station where his father worked—would prove key to his later practice. After serving abroad in the army, Indiana moved to New York in 1954, where he adopted the name of his native state and announced himself to be ‘an American painter of signs’ (R. Indiana, quoted in J. Pissarro, ‘Signs Into Art’, Robert Indiana, New York 2006, p. 59). Early critics compared his bright, hard-edged visual language to the punchy aesthetic of pinball machines, arcade games, and roadside advertisements. As the artist himself explained, ‘It’s always been a matter of impact; the relationship of colour to colour and word to shape and word to complete piece ... I’m most concerned with the force of its impact. I’ve never found attractive things that are delicate or soft or subtly nuanced’ (R. Indiana, quoted in P. Tuchman, ‘Pop! Interviews with George Segal, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist, and Robert Indiana’, Artnews, Vol. 73, No. 5, May 1974, p. 29).

While it is a supreme distillation of Pop Art’s bold, vernacular formal sensibilities—and emerged from an antiwar era in which ‘peace and love’ was a common mantra—Indiana’s LOVE was also informed by the painterly lessons of colour and shape he learned from Ellsworth Kelly. Indiana was in a relationship for several years with Kelly, who helped him find an apartment in the Manhattan seaport of Coenties Slip shortly after his arrival in New York. During this formative period he also became acquainted with fellow Slip residents Agnes Martin, Jack Youngerman and James Rosenquist, and briefly shared a studio with Cy Twombly. Indiana arrived at the LOVE motif as his affair with Kelly came to an end. His portrayal of the word appears to make a joyful statement, but it also hints at complexity. ‘He saw it as a precarious image’, says curator Barbara Haskell, ‘that came out of his disappointments in love—that tilted O suggests the instability of relationships’ (B. Haskell, quoted in B. Sokol, ‘“LOVE” and Other Four-Letter Words’, New York Times, 23 May 2018). If Indiana’s LOVE is emblematic of harmony, optimism and fulfilment, it also—much like love itself—holds the potential for tension, subversion and drama.

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