Robert Indiana has passed away in his Maine island home at 89 years old.
The Hoosier pop artist achieved global recognition for his “Love” series of the 1960s. The iconic image of the word spelled out with a tilted “O” was originally commissioned for a Christmas card by the Museum of Modern Art in 1965, but the design was replicated in prints, sculptures, tapestries, and even on the cover of this magazine last year.
Indiana was opposed to the abstract expressionist movement, according to a write-up in the Post in 1971. His work often displayed the bold colors of 1960s pop culture with stenciled words and American iconography along with themes of consumption. Prominent stars, stripes, and overlapping figures in his artwork give the impression that he is rearranging the American flag, or perhaps creating road signs in an alternate Midwestern universe.
The artist became reclusive in his later years. His “Love” had been replicated and reimagined endlessly over the years (as “Vote” in 1976 and as “Hope” in 2008), and his reputation among New York art circles diminished as a result. In 2013, however, the Whitney Museum of American Art held a retrospective show of Indiana’s lesser-known works, drawing attention to his boldly subversive place in the 1960s art world.
“Love” remains a “symbol of unity, purity, and communion” in its many incarnations, and Indiana’s legacy can be seen from Wichita to Jerusalem.