Robert Indiana, 89, Who Turned ‘Love’ Into Enduring Art, Is Dead

That 12 months he additionally starred within the Andy Warhol movie of the identical identify, which featured Mr. Indiana very slowly and languorously consuming a mushroom. Then got here “love.”

Although few followers appear conversant in the background, the artwork historian Susan Elizabeth Ryan revealed in her monograph on Mr. Indiana that the primary model of his most well-known work was markedly totally different. Completed “within complex circumstances” on the finish of 1964, after Mr. Indiana and Mr. Kelly had damaged up, Ms. Ryan wrote, it had a cruder four-letter phrase instead of “love,” in an identical composition with a tilted “u.”

Mr. Indiana by no means totally mentioned, at the very least not in public, why he made the transition to the G-rated model, which he used as his Christmas card that 12 months. The subsequent 12 months, he turned it right into a Christmas card for the Museum of Modern Art in New York. By 1966 he had executed sufficient variations on the theme to have a present of “Love” prints, work and sculptures at Stable Gallery in New York.

By 1970, when he constructed a 12-foot-tall metal model for the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the picture was well-known sufficient to be invoked — some would say stolen — by the e book jacket design for Erich Segal’s best-selling novel “Love Story.” (This was lengthy earlier than Mr. Indiana’s sellers began chasing after any copyright infringements.)

Mr. Indiana believed the piracy of the picture harmed his popularity within the New York artwork world, and he retreated to Maine in 1978. But many critics countered that he had appropriated his personal work shamelessly for many years. He created dozens of variations of “Love” in several mediums, planted “Love” sculptures in cities from Indianapolis to Tokyo, and forged it into totally different languages, together with Hebrew (“Ahava”) and Spanish (“Amor”).

He additionally revamped the slogan for political ends. In 1976, he recast “Love” as “Vote” for a poster commissioned by the Democratic National Committee. In 2008, he constructed a sculpture for the Democratic National Convention utilizing the phrase “Hope” and licensed the picture’s copy on T-shirts, buttons and limited-edition prints offered by Barack Obama’s presidential marketing campaign.

Mr. Anderson, of the Dallas Musuem, mentioned that “Love,” too, must be remembered in a broader political context, as a product of the 1960s. “To be true to the artist’s intentions,” he mentioned, “we should see ‘Love’ in relation to the antiwar moment, and not as a decal on a baby boomer’s Volvo.”

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