Robert Indiana, an artist from Indiana best known for his LOVE sculpture and his role in the Pop art movement, died Saturday at his home in Maine at the age of 89.
Kathryn Haigh, chief operating officer of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, describes Indiana as the artist who put his home state on the map in the Pop art movement, and one of the first artists to worked with monumental sculpture.
The IMA has housed Indiana’s original LOVE sculpture since 1975. It was relocated inside in early 2017 for preservation. The sculpture sits in the entryway to the galleries.
Haigh says in her last correspondence with Indiana, she told him of the relocation, writing “we’re putting love at the heart of the IMA.”
Haigh says the museum amassed a large collection of Indiana’s work, but that LOVE remains the top attraction for guests.
The news of Indiana’s death coincides with Tuesday’s Gardens and Museums day, when the IMA offers free admission to the public. School groups and guests walked by the sculpture and posed for photos.
One visitor, who said she had heard of Indiana’s death, paused to admire the sculpture for the first time with her daughter. She said she was surprised by the size of the sculpture and found it beautiful.
Robert Indiana was born Robert Clark in 1928 in New Castle, Indiana, but changed his surname in 1958, according to the biography on his website.
Though he lived outside of Indiana for much of his working life, Haigh says she considers Indiana a Hoosier artist who referenced the heartland with his choice of color palettes, symbols, and autobiographical details.
“He’s definitely a native Hoosier and I think he embraced that,” Haigh says.