Robert Indiana was born in New Castle, Indiana, in 1928, and changed his name from Robert Clark before moving in 1954 to New York City, where he joined the pop art movement. Drawing on commercial art approaches blended with existentialism, his distinctive imagery gradually moved toward what the artist calls “sculptural poems.” Indiana’s work often consists of bold, simple, iconic images, especially numbers and short words like “EAT,” “HUG,” and “LOVE.” He is also known for painting the unique basketball court formerly used by the Milwaukee Bucks in that city’s U.S. Cellular Arena, with a large M-shape taking up each half of the court. His 2002 aluminum sculpture in the lobby of Taipei 101, titled 1-0, uses multicolored numbers to suggest the conduct of world trade and the patterns of human life.
Since 1978 Indiana has been a resident of the island town of Vinalhaven, Maine. He appeared in Andy Warhol’s film Eat (1964), which is a single 45-minute shot of Indiana eating a mushroom. Indiana has also been a theatrical set and costume designer, and after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, produced a series of Peace Paintings, which were exhibited in New York in 2004. Indiana’s best known image is the word “LOVE” in upper-case letters, arranged in a square with a tilted letter O. This image, first created for a Christmas card for the Museum of Modern Art in 1964, was included on an eight-cent United States Postal Service postage stamp in 1973, the first of their regular series of love stamps. Infamously, Indiana failed to register the copyright for his catchy image and found it difficult to deter unauthorized use. Sculpture versions of the Indiana image have been installed at several American locations as well as in Taipei, Japan, Singapore, Spain, Canada, and Israel.