love statue at the love park in philadelphia

Public Displays of Love

After hearing that the French artist whose work we saw on the slopes of Val d’Isere, Robert Orlinsky, was inspired by the LOVE sculptures of American artist, Robert Indiana, I decided to take a closer look at these iconic pieces of public art.  I have seen two of these sculptures – in New York and Philadelphia.

Phladelphia’s Love Park, officially named JFK Plaza, is popularly nicknamed for the Indiana sculpture. Although not very big, the piece made out of Cor-Ten steel dominates the park.

love statue at the love park in philadelphia If you wanted to be a romantic, then you would read the O is at an angle in order to lead your eye towards the V on the bottom.  Moreover, the tilted O makes the sculpture less than perfect to convey the idea that love is imperfect.

Alternatively, the negative space in the O can also be seen as an erect penis or even a cat’s eye.

love statue at the love park in philadelphia

We saw Jesus at Love Park in Philadelphia.  I mean where else would he hang out, right?

Jesus at love park

Robert Indiana actually did the LOVE design for the Museum of Modern Art in New York City as a Christmas card in 1958. (I’m telling you the MoMA gift store is wonderful!).  

The cards did so well he created the sculptures.  The design became wildly popular in the 1960’s with the countercultural movement shouting for love and peace.  The U.S. post office even made it into a stamp.
Unfortunately, Indiana did not copyright his work because he didn’t want to ruin the lines of the piece with his name on it.  He has made very little money off this iconic piece of art even though everyone assumed he was raking in the money.  Although the design was famous, few people knew he was the artist.  Moreover, he lost a lot of credibility in the serious art circles for being a sellout.

Robert Indian Love Statue at Love Park in Philadelphia USA

In many ways, Love for Indiana was the zenith of his success and also the instrument of his artistic decline.  Ironic, no?  Love can make and break you.

Did you know that Robert Indiana’s LOVE sculpture has been found all over the world?   And, in different languages. Wikipedia has a list of where you can find the various LOVE sculptures around the world.

This sculpture spells out the word, Ahava, which means love in Hebrew.  It is located outside of Israel Museum in Jurasalem.

Ahava Love sculpture in Jerusalem

Here is a Spanish version.

Amor sculpture
Image credit: Jorge Louzao Penalvo
Look out for LOVE next time you are travelling!

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I am an American expat based in London with my travel-loving family. I write at Just Go Places Blog about luxury, cultural and family travel.

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