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Famed American pop artist and creator of Love, Robert Indiana, dies aged 89

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Robert Indiana: Love. Image via MoMA

Robert Indiana, who is best known for his series Love, has died aged 89. Produced in the 1960s, the series placed an “L” and italicised “O” atop a “V” and “E”, turning the word into one of the most recognisable artworks of the 20th century and a career-defining moment for Indiana.

“In some ways [Indiana] was perhaps seen as the proverbial one-hit wonder because Love was so immensely iconic and immensely huge in pop culture. For better or for worse, it overshadowed some of his other contributions,” states Dan Mills, the director at Bates College Museum of Art in Lewiston, Maine.

Despite this, Indiana was also known for his vast array of paintings and his piece Hope which utilised the same format as Love to turn the word that became synonymous with Barack Obama’s presidential campaign into a sculpture. Throughout his career, the artist was fascinated with America, signage and the power of words. This fascination started when he first moved to New York City and changed his name from Robert Clark to Robert Indiana (his home state).

During the 1970s, Indiana became disenfranchised with the New York art scene and so moved to Vinalhaven off the coast of Maine where he continued to work, living a reclusive life. It was in this home that the American pop artist died from respiratory failure on Saturday says James Brannon, Indiana’s attorney.

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Robert Indiana with his Love sculpture in Central Park, New York City. Image via The Guardian