April 29, 2015
New York City Tours & Sightseeing | M2M Tours – NYC’s Love Sculpture
A Short History of New York City’s Famous “LOVE” Statue
On almost every tour we get asked about the famous NYC outdoor “LOVE” sculpture situated on the corner of 6th Avenue and 55th Street in mid-town.
Why is it there? What was the inspiration? Haven’t I seen this statue somewhere else before? Well, you’re in luck. It just so happens to be one of our favorite pieces of New York City art. So, without further a do, here’s the story!
First created in 1964 by artist Robert Indiana as a Christmas card design for the Museum of Modern Art, it was first produced as a sculpture in 1970 and has been on continuous exhibition at the Indianapolis Museum of Art since it was acquired in 1975. The sculptures likeness has since been used on an 8 cent US postage stamp (1973) and many ‘official’ versions of the sculpture have been widely produced all over the United States (including this one in NYC) and around the world.
Indiana forgot to register copyright for the work. After pirated versions of the design began to appear in excess during the late 1960s, Indiana attempted to copyright his work, but this was rejected on the grounds that a single word cannot be protected. Originally created in English, there are now versions in Hebrew, Chinese, Italian and Spanish. MoMA historian Deborah Wye describes Indiana’s image as “full of erotic, religious, autobiographical, and political underpinnings” that make it “both accessible and complex in meaning.
Megan Wilde offered more detail about the autobiographical origins in an article for Mental Floss magazine, “The word love was connected to [the artist’s] childhood experience
God is Love. The colors were homage to his father who worked at a Phillips 66 gas station during the
Depression.” She quotes Robert Indiana as describing the original colors as “the red and green of that sign against the blue Hoosier sky.” Indiana’s image was quickly adapted upon its appearance in the 1960s by the hippie free love movement and again in the 1990s by skateboard enthusiasts after skateboarding was banned in Philadelphia’s Love Park.