LOVE Sculpture Creator Robert Indiana Dies at 89

“It was a marvelous idea, but it was also a terrible mistake,” the pop art icon once said of his most famous work.

Robert Indiana. (AP Photo/Lauren Casselberry.)

Pop artist Robert Indiana, perhaps best known for creating the iconic “LOVE” image that was dedicated as a sculpture in Philadelphia in 1976, died at his home in Maine on Saturday, according to multiple reports. He was 89 years old.

While locals claim the LOVE statue as a Philly thing, Indiana’s stacked-letter creation first appeared in a series of poems in the late 1950s. The colorful L-O-V-E lettering gained further acclaim when it was featured on the Museum of Modern Art’s Christmas card in 1965 and later as a run of stamps. (According to the New York Times, more than 330 million were produced by the postal service.)

love park

Photo by HughE Dillon.

“It was a marvelous idea, but it was also a terrible mistake,” Indiana told NPR in 2014. “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.”

While Philly’s statue in LOVE Park may be the most recognizable, installations of the piece can also be found all over the world. There are 22 in the United States alone, including the original at the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the second statue in Philadelphia on the University of Pennsylvania’s campus. Dubbed “the most plagiarized work of art” in the 20th century by Indiana himself, variations of LOVE have been translated into Hebrew, Chinese, Italian, and Spanish.

Additionally, Indiana is remembered for his re-creation, “HOPE,” which was used by President Barack Obama’s campaign and the 2008 Democratic National Convention. He also designed a far-out court for the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks in the ’70s.