Lot 37
  • 37

Robert Indiana

400,000 - 600,000 USD
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  • Robert Indiana
  • LOVE
  • stamped with the artist's signature, date 1966-1999 and number 2/6 on the lower interior edge of the letter "E"
  • cor-ten steel
  • 36 by 36 by 18 in. 91.4 by 91.4 by 46 cm.
  • Executed in 1966 - 1999, this work is number 2 from an edition of 6 plus 4 artist's proofs.


Coskun Fine Art, London
Acquired by the present owner from the above in June 2007


This work is in very good condition overall. The Cor-ten steel has variations and irregularity to the patina, which is inherent to the artist's chosen medium. There are some scattered accretions and light surface abrasions. Light wear at a few of the turning edges is evident.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Robert Indiana’s LOVE is an icon of 20th century art history: instantly recognizable, the work stands proudly as a form of collective signifier, symbolizing positivity and goodwill at a universal level. Created in its first sculptural iteration in 1966, versions of LOVE now form part of the collections of major international institutions, including the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the New Orleans Museum of Art, and have been displayed in prominent public spaces such as Central Park and Sixth Avenue in New York and the John F. Kennedy Plaza in Philadelphia.  Despite the immutable solidity of the metal which anchors LOVE firmly to the ground, the ‘spiritual’ element of the work was of immense importance to Indiana: “Know that the LOVE I speak of is spiritual.” (the artist cited in: Joachim Pissarro, ‘Signs Into Art,’ in Simon Salama-Caro et. al., Robert Indiana, New York 2006, p. 72)

Indiana was strongly influenced by his Midwestern childhood in rural Indiana, the state whose name he adopted over that of his birth one in 1958. The everyday symbols and roadside signs that he observed as a boy in New Castle became the foundation of the artist’s work. Compounded by the industrial environment of the shipyards at Coenties Slip along the East River, where Indiana first worked alongside Ellsworth Kelly, Agnes Martin and Jack Youngerman, the present work is the culmination of the artist’s fascination with the ‘Love’ theme. The word ‘Love’ first appeared in a 1960 oil on canvas, Four-Star Love, and then in 1964 in Love is God, a revelatory statement that inverted the familiar Christian Scientist sign that Indiana had observed every Sunday from an early age. In December of that year Indiana made a series of frottage rubbings using the stacked quadrilateral lettering for the first time, which he then sent out to friends for the holiday. The following year the Junior Council of The Museum of Modern Art commissioned Indiana to design one of their Christmas cards. He submitted four different versions of the stacked LOVE using different color combinations. The museum chose the most vibrant pairing of red letters against a blue and green background; the card was a sell-out success. Then, in 1966, Indiana created a whole series of LOVE paintings for a show at the Stable Gallery; included in that show was an edition of six polished aluminum twelve-inch LOVE sculptures. Indiana has since produced multiple versions of the LOVE sculpture in different sizes and color combinations. The largest iteration, at 144-inches tall, was executed in 1970 and made of Cor-ten steel.  Monumental in scope but more domestically scaled, in the present work text and form resonate profoundly within Indiana’s simple and resilient structure. The rich patina of the organic Cor-ten steel sculpture naturally oxides over time, creating variegated areas of silver and purple with iridescent overtones.

The eponymous quadrilateral LOVE motif rapidly became an emblem of an era which peaked with the so called ‘Summer of Love’ in 1967. Whilst LOVE appeared to represent the cultural zeitgeist of the 1960s in its proclamation of international benevolence, the work remains immensely powerful in impact today: a timeless symbol of a movingly universal ideal.