Robert Indiana - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale Hong Kong Saturday, November 24, 2018 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Morgan Art Foundation
    Opera Gallery, Paris
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    “With “LOVE” it was back to the single word and also a return, after several years of paintings with the circle the dominant form, to the quartered canvas, or in this case, structure… Here the quartered field is filled with the four letters of love, as compactly and economically as possible, but with my interest in the circle still called to mind by the tilted o.” Robert Indiana

    A boldly hued iteration of the most celebrated and potent motif in the artist’s oeuvre, LOVE is a timeless sculpture that is the defining image of the pantheon of Pop Art and contemporary American culture. Variants of the present work are held in the collections of prestigious cultural institutions such as the Indianapolis Museum of Art and installed in the throbbing hearts of cosmopolitan cities, New York, London and Tokyo.

    Originally conceived as a painting to be used on a Museum of Modern Art Christmas card in 1965, the letters L.O.V.E. are at once a powerful and playful statement in three dimensions. The bold, hard-edged, flat forms and stenciled words share an aesthetic characteristic with roadside signs and signals, a lasting fixation that the artist had growing up in Depression era Indiana, where he spent years moving from home to home, being on the road in the family car as a child. As Pissarro stated, “Indiana’s art corroborates this new reliance on street and highway signage, and on its chance poetry, on the endless flux or urban messages that ceaselessly buzz in front of our eyes and brain, and on its powerful visual fascination – which these signs seem to gradually lose their referential meaning, although never quite completely.” (J. Pissarro, “Signs into Art,” Robert Indiana, New York, 2006, p. 59.) To the artist, these signs took on intangible meanings and emotions through the reduced language of graphic art and became his main source of inspiration.

    Indiana’s LOVE was an emblem of 1960s idealism, profoundly resonating with the youth culture who lived in an era dominated by the fight for civil rights, nuclear disarmament and the Vietnam War. It was a declaration which embodied the moral issues that preoccupied the time, physically epitomizing the aspirations of its social and political movements, taking its place among the many slogans which promoted the word ‘love’, such as ‘Make Love Not War’. The artist said, “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… It’s become the very theme of love itself.” (Indiana’s Indianas: A 20-Year Retrospective of Paintings and Sculpture from the Collection of Robert Indiana, exh. cat., Rockland, The William A. Farnsworth Library and Art Museum, 1982.)

    In the present lot, the word ‘Love’ is reduced to the simple structure of its letters, divided into a typographic placement of four stacked letters, with each monosyllable superimposed, and the tilted letter “O”, perpetually trembling on the edge of movement. Describing the work as a ‘one-word poem’, Indiana explained that "LOVE is purely a skeleton of all that word has meant in all the erotic and religious aspects of the theme, and to bring it down to the actual structure of calligraphy [is to reduce it] to the bare bone” (the artist in Theresa Brakeley, ed., Robert Indiana, New York, 1990, p. 168.) Utilising the simplicity of two colours, an attractive combination of gold and blue, and fusing it with a monumental three-dimensionality, Indiana’s LOVE possesses a powerful strength where the symbolic overtures of the word ‘Love’ resonates beyond the sculpture’s abstract qualities; thus becoming a lasting emblem of the artist’s legacy.

Property of a Middle Eastern Collector


LOVE (Gold Face - Blue Sides)

incised with the artist's signature, date and number '©1966-2002 R INDIANA 3/8' on the interior edge of the letter E
painted aluminum
45.7 x 45.7 x 22.8 cm. (17 7/8 x 17 7/8 x 9 in.)
Executed in 1966-2002, this work is number 3 from an edition of 8. The authenticity of this work has been confirmed by the personal representative of the Estate of Robert Indiana.

HK$2,000,000 - 3,000,000 

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20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 25 November 2018