Robert Indiana is an American artist best known for his iconic sculptures and lasting contributions to the Pop Art movement. Born Robert Clark, the artist spent his childhood in Indianapolis and numerous other cities in the state of Indiana, leading to his chosen namesake. Following a three-year stint in the U.S. Air Force, Indiana spent the early 1950’s studying at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine, and Edinburgh College of Art. In 1954, he settled in New York City, where he was catapulted to fame in the early 1960s after Alfred H. Barr, Jr., purchased one of his works for the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).
Much of Indiana’s body of work consists of simple, vibrantly colored groupings of numbers and letters, particularly in the form of short words like HUG, EAT, DIE, and most famously, LOVE. Indiana first stacked the letters in the word LOVE in a square formation in a 1958 series of poems, which he followed up with a LOVE print for the Museum of Modern Art’s 1965 Christmas card. He has since created dozens of sculptural versions, which are now situated in prominent locations in cities around the world, along with additional versions in Hebrew, Hindi, and Spanish. LOVE even appeared on a U.S. postage stamp in 1973. Indiana’s prints and sculptures of words and numbers continue to proliferate in popular culture to this day.
In 2008, Indiana created a new image, entitled HOPE, in the style of the instantly recognizable LOVE, referring to it as “love’s close relative.” He donated all proceeds from the sale of reproductions of this image to the presidential campaign of Barack Obama, ultimately raising over $1,000,000 to this end. Indiana’s works now reside in the collections of countless major museums, including the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA), and the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C.