WOW – Work Of the Week – Indiana “Love Cross”

Love Cross

Love Cross
25 3/8 x 22 1/2 in.
Artist’s Proof (A.P.)
Pencil signed, dated and numbered

About This Work:

With his calculated use of specific words and numbers – the elements on which most of his work is based on, Robert Indiana’s art is often very complex, introspective, intellectual and cerebral. Indiana captures the complexity of life in the enigmatic intricacies of his compositions. He is a Pop artist but, from this particular point of view, he can also be considered fully conceptual for his hermetic style, which represents a little more than a way stop from the “lack of message and superficiality” of the Pop Art movement.

Although the complexity of the meaning and the aesthetic of his work is simple and timeless, mathematics or geometry are the most important elements of inspiration both for his work and his life. Indiana’s art seems to state that his reasons and themes can not be contested, since he bases his work on such logical and unbiased elements.

When talking about the aspect of the works, we can not ignore the role that colors play in his compositions. They vibrate to attract each other into a reconciliation of opposite forces. Indiana likes to create endless variations of his works and early themes, experimenting with different color schemes and compositional formats to achieve a wide range of visual and emotional effects.

Bright colors, often basic and primary, and the use of words, make his artworks almost monotonous to the eye, but there is plenty of significance underneath. The beauty of Indiana’s is the beauty of taking one’s time to quietly look at something that is not new, but just part of someone’s daily life. It is the beauty of balance and harmony, contemplation and knowledge, the beauty of pure reflections translated in conceptual images.

Robert Indiana’s Love Cross embodies all these concepts and features.

His choice of the word “Love” recalls his memories of the motto “God is Love“, that he saw emblazoned on the Christian Science church of his youth. Containing both a universal meaning and a visually concise quality, “LOVE” provides him with the perfect synthesis of word and image.

The Love Cross was made as an announcement for Indiana’s first one-man museum show at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love.

The theme of Love has achieved recognition as universally familiar as the star and the cross (other two recurring elements in Indiana’s work), eventually becoming the most famous artwork by Indiana who, for this reason, has even been called “the man who invented Love“.

This work reflects the artist’s involvement with the formal concerns of the Sixties abstraction, like the use of large areas of pure color, visual power of optical effects, serialization and  consciousness of the edge. Indiana’s long-standing involvement with sculptural forms is clear in this cross-shaped work. A cross that is also, not by chance, symmetrical. Furthermore, since the square was his favorite symbol and a square is like a cross with extended borders, it is not difficult to imagine that this shape has been choose for a specific stylistic reason.

This non-figurative composition is formed by the symbol/word LOVE, reflected in all the directions. The razor-sharp, hard-edge rigid lines help the viewer to focus not only on the red words, but also on the blue spaces between the letters, which create a visual pattern themselves.

Indiana captures the complexity of life itself with simple lines, letters or numbers and flat colors. He helps us to decode life by emphasizing the most important things in it – like love.
But why all these concepts are hidden underneath words and numbers? Why has he hidden it? “It is not hidden“, he says. “It is there. It has always been there. You just have not really looked at it. Look harder. Look again“.

WOW! – Work of the Week 6/29/15

Robert Indiana, Zinnia, from Garden of Love

Robert Indiana          Zinnia, from Garden of Love          1982

Robert Indiana Zinnia, from Garden of Love 1982

Robert Indiana
Zinnia, from Garden of Love
26 5/8 x 26 5/8 in.
Edition of 100
This piece is signed, titled, dated and numbered in pencil.

About This Work:

Robert Indiana is most recognized for his very pop art LOVE works. 

Zinnia is one of 6 works from Robert Indiana’s Garden of Love portfolio. Each of the six works is inspired and named after a flower.

About Robert Indiana:

“There have been many American SIGN painters, but there never were any American sign PAINTERS.”   This sums up Robert Indiana’s position in the world of contemporary art. He has taken the everyday symbols of roadside America and made them into brilliantly colored geometric pop art. In his work he has been an ironic commentator on the American scene. Both his graphics and his paintings have made cultural statements on life and, during the rebellious 1960s, pointed political statements as well.

Born Robert Clark in New Castle, Indiana, in 1928, he adopted the name of his native state as a pseudonymous surname early in his career.

What Indiana calls “sculptural poems”,  his work often consists of bold, simple, iconic images, especially numbers and short words like “EAT”, “HUG”, and “LOVE”.

Rather than using symbols from the mass media, Indiana makes images of words that focus on identity.  Using them in bold block letters in vivid colors, he has enticed his viewers to look at the commonplace from a new perspective.

Despite his unique methods, several important aspects of Indiana’s works clearly identify him as a Pop artist. He manages to give a direct and honest description of American culture while appearing cool and uninvolved, much as Warhol did by simply reproducing images of superstars and soup can labels.  In his most famous series Indiana took familiar words, usually three to five letters long, and repeated, reflected, or divided them. The simple familiarity of these words and the flattened manner in which Indiana presents them demonstrates the Pop art accessibility of content; viewers need not read much past the surface.

However, what distinguishes Indiana from his “Pop” colleagues is the depth of his personal engagement with his subject matter.  Indiana’s works all speak to the vital forces that have shaped American culture in the late half of the 20th century: personal and national identity, political and social upheaval and stasis, the rise of consumer culture, and the pressures of history.  He uses his art it to both celebrate and criticize the national way of life.

By presenting familiar words in new ways, he asks the viewer to reevaluate assumptions and emotions associated with those words.  For example, no longer does the word “eat” simply describe an act, but a whole set of social conditions and practices associated with that act. Viewers might see the intimacy of eating and its central role in family, community, and romantic rituals or they might understand the negative aspects of eating in a society where high-fat, sugar-rich diets are the norm.

The same is true of Indiana’s most famous piece, his LOVE sculpture of 1966. By using block letters in bold, bright colors and dividing the word in half, he presents “love” in an unfamiliar way, thus asking the viewer what this familiar term means personally. His preoccupation with LOVE became an exploration of complicated relationships and his spiritual nature.