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robert indiana

15 Things You Should Know About Robert Indiana's LOVE

robert indiana
robert indiana

You've no doubt seen Robert Indiana's LOVE. Versions of LOVE have been seen all over the world in paintings, photos, and—in the case of his popular monuments—in person. But while LOVE is everywhere, the facts behind its creation and rise to fame are heartbreaking. 

1. THE EARLY RENDITIONS WERE STARKLY DIFFERENT.

In 1961, Indiana painted a canvas in different shades of red that said "LOVE" on the bottom and had four stars, which he would credit as giving him the idea to stack the letters. But the more immediate ancestor came in 1964, when Indiana pulled inspiration from his religious roots to create Love is God. The grey-scale diamond-shaped painting took its inspiration from an inscription in Indiana’s childhood Christian Science church that read, "God is Love." According to Indiana, “Although the Love Is God canvas bears no relationship to what now has become a logo, it started me thinking about the subject of love.”

2. LOVE AS WE KNOW IT BEGAN AS A CHRISTMAS CARD. 

Through his exploration in text art, Indiana created his first LOVE for personal Christmas cards in 1964. Perhaps he sent one to the folks at the Museum of Modern Art. The following year, the museum commissioned him to design a similar Christmas card to be sold in its gift shop. The LOVE card quickly became one of the store’s most popular items. 

3. ITS INSPIRATIONS WERE DEEPLY PERSONAL.

In the wake of his father's death, Indiana paid tribute to his departed parent with the colors of his 1966 painting, LOVE. The red and green were meant to recall the sign of the Phillips 66 where his father toiled during the artist's hardscrabble childhood when he was still known as Robert Clark. The blue represented the sky of his home state and chosen namesake, Indiana. 

4. THE CHRISTMAS CARD'S SUCCESS LED TO A WHOLE EXHIBITION.

In 1966, Indiana held the LOVE Show at the Stable Gallery, which boasted paintings, drawings, and small sculptures that all played up on the word and its rendering in the bestselling card. The work spoke to the peace and love generation, so the show drew national media attention, including coverage on NBC. 

5. LOVE SPREAD QUICKLY. 

Getty Images

Indiana created bigger LOVE paintings, and in 1970 built the first of many large LOVE sculptures for public display. The monumental statue and its maker went on a short tour that stopped at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Boston City Hall, and Manhattan's Central Park. The 12-foot by 12-foot by 6-foot structure drew such crowds that Indiana made more. They can be found in major cities like Philadelphia, New York, New Orleans, Vancouver, Lisbon, Tokyo, and Singapore.   

6. THE CHRISTMAS CARD LED TO A VALENTINE'S DAY STAMP. 

Indiana oversaw the design for the United States Postal Service LOVE stamp that was first printed in 1973. With more than 300 million copies sold, it became one of the best-selling commemorative stamps of all time (although technically it’s a special stamp, not a commemorative), spreading LOVE around the globe with each new printing. 

7. LOVE EMERGED AS A LITERAL SIGN OF THE TIMES. 

Soon, LOVE was everywhere. The Broadway cast of Hair posed before a LOVE statue for a promotional shoot. The already iconic text treatment was being reproduced on cufflinks, rings, album and book covers, all tapping into the counterculture zeitgeist of the '60s and '70s. As Hélène Depotte explained in Robert Indiana: Retrospective 39, "It has left its creator behind to attain an expansive autonomy of its own. LOVE reflected a whole state of mind, a general aspiration, and a universal utopia." 

8. EVEN AS THE PIECE BECAME AN ICON, FAME ELUDED INDIANA ... 

In 1976, he admitted, "Everybody knows my LOVE, but they don't have the slightest idea what I look like. I'm practically anonymous." 

9. AND LOVE DIDN'T MAKE HIM RICH. 

Getty Images

Or at least not as rich as you'd think. Indiana failed to copyright his LOVE design, so opportunistic copycats began springing up left and right, churning out cheap aluminum paperweights and other baubles that would never earn their true designer a dime. Later, he struggled to gain a patent because trademark courts refused to grant a copyright for a single word. Further efforts did little to stop the flood of imitators.  

10. ALL THE SAME, LOVE BRANDED INDIANA A SELL-OUT. 

In the eyes of Indiana’s artistic peers, designing a MoMA Christmas card was one thing. But when Indiana opened "Love Show," it sent a signal that he considered his commercial work part of his artistic career, which rankled the art world’s elite. They saw Indiana's small LOVE sculptures not as a way to make art more accessible to cash-strapped would-be collectors, but as pandering to the mainstream. The overexposure caused by knockoffs of his work only made matters worse. 

11. INDIANA TRIED TO USE PHOTOGRAPHS TO FORGE A CONNECTION WITH HIS WORK.

"I wasn't aware that I was disrespected," Indiana told NPR in a 2014 interview, "I've only been neglected." When LOVE took off, he began a personal campaign to be pictured with his pieces to remind the public of the man behind them.   

12. LOVE MADE INDIANA A RECLUSE. 

By 1978, the artist was exhausted by New York and its overwhelming and often hostile art scene. So, he packed up and moved to the isolated Maine island of Vinalhaven. "LOVE bit me," he confessed in the NPR interview, "It was a marvelous idea, but it was also a terrible mistake. It became too popular; it became too popular. And there are people who don't like popularity. It's much better to be exclusive and remote. That's why I'm on an island off the coast of Maine, you see." 

13. LOVE HAS BEEN TRANSLATED. 

Getty Images

A Hebrew version can be found at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. But 1998's AMOR snagged headlines in 2015 when the Philadelphia Museum of Art proudly exhibited the piece to celebrate Pope Francis's historic visit to the City of Brotherly Love. The Spanish translated piece was meant as a tribute to the Argentinian pontiff's native tongue. 

14. ITS TILTED O MAY HOLD A BAWDY MEANING.

Critics have praised how the tilt of LOVE's "O" makes for a strong design line to the "V." But some have pointed out that this slant might be meant to mirror a mouth or the male anatomy

15. LOVE NO LONGER PAINS INDIANA.

For decades, LOVE was both Indiana’s most popular work and to some degree the bane of his existence. That state of affairs changed in 2008 when Indiana found himself inspired by a long-shot presidential candidate named Barack Obama. In a bid to help promote the Illinois senator in his campaign, the reclusive artist re-emerged with HOPE. This led to Hope Day as well as exhibitions of his work that urged critics and the public alike to reconnect with Indiana. Today, he is favorably compared to other Pop Art pioneers like Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons.

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Gergely Dudás - Dudolf, Facebook
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fun
There’s a Ghost Hiding in This Illustration—Can You Find It?
Gergely Dudás - Dudolf, Facebook
Gergely Dudás - Dudolf, Facebook

A hidden image illustration by Gergely Dudás, a.k.a. Dudolf
Gergely Dudás - Dudolf, Facebook

Gergely Dudás is at it again. The Hungarian illustrator, who is known to his fans as “Dudolf,” has spent the past several years delighting the internet with his hidden image illustrations, going back to the time he hid a single panda bear in a sea of snowmen in 2015. In the years since, he has played optical tricks with a variety of other figures, including sheep and Santa Claus and hearts and snails. For his latest brainteaser, which he posted to both his Facebook page and his blog, Dudolf is asking fans to find a pet ghost named Sheet in a field of white bunny rabbits.

As we’ve learned from his past creations, what makes this hidden image difficult to find is that it looks so similar to the objects surrounding it that our brains just sort of group it in as being “the same.” So you’d better concentrate.

If you’ve scanned the landscape again and again and can’t find Sheet to save your life, go ahead and click here to see where he’s hiding.

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Design
Graphic Design Series Shows Which Fonts Your Favorite Logos Use

Unless you’re a dedicated design geek, you probably can’t recognize the fonts used in the logos of some of the most recognizable companies in the world—even if you see them every day. Enter graphic designer Emanuele Abrate, whose latest project, Logofonts, illuminates the favorite fonts of the brands you see every day.

As we spotted on Adweek, Logofonts takes a logo—like, for instance, Spotify’s—and replaces the company’s name with the font in which it's written. Some fonts, like Spotify’s Gotham, might be familiar, while others you may never have heard of. Nike’s and Red Bull’s Futura is so commonplace in signage in logos that it’s the subject of an entire book called Never Use Futura. (Other companies that use it include Absolut Vodka and Domino’s Pizza, and many more.) But you most likely aren’t familiar with Twitter’s Pico or Netflix’s Bebas Neue.

Abrate is a managing partner at grafigata, an Italian blog and online academy focused on graphic design. In his work as a freelance designer, he focuses on logo design and brand identities, so it wasn’t hard for him to track down exactly which fonts each brand uses.

“When I see a logo, I wonder how it was conceived, how it was designed, what kind of character was used and why,” Abrate tells Mental Floss. The Logofonts project came from “trying to understand which fonts they use or which fonts have been modified (or redesigned) to get to the final result.”

The Nike logo reads 'Futura.'

The Twitter logo reads 'Pico.'

The Red Bull Logo reads 'Futura BQ.'

The Netflix logo reads 'Bebas Neue.'

You can check out the rest of the Logofonts project and Abrate’s other work on his Behance or Facebook pages, and on his Instagram.

[h/t Adweek]

All images courtesy Emanuele Abrate

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