How many LOVE statues are there?

Illustration by Bo Brown

Dear Benny,

I’m writing about the LOVE sculpture that adorns the green space facing the castle [in Blanche Levy Park]. It’s been there ever since “We Lost” was removed for restoration about three years ago. My question is, how many LOVE statues are there? I know of one in NYC and two in Philadelphia.
— Longtime Campus Denizen

Dear Art Lover,

I wish I had a definitive answer to your question, but I don’t. Immortalized on T-shirts, posters and coffee mugs, Robert Indiana’s LOVE image—the colorful letters stacked, the “o” tilted— started life as a design for a Christmas card commissioned by New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

People responded strongly to the image, with its witty counterpoint of hard, glossy letters and an emotionally powerful word, and it soon became an icon of the modern era. Indiana actually intended the LOVE sculpture to be about God’s love—he had attended a Christian Scientist church in his youth—but that meaning was quickly forgotten as the Youth Movement of the ’60s adopted it as their symbol of peace, love and togetherness.

Subsequent generations have continued their love affair with the seemingly ageless piece of art. The LOVE sculpture on this campus (created in 1966) is part of an edition, with others in cities and on campuses all over the U.S., including Philadelphia’s own Love Park—otherwise known as John F. Kennedy Plaza—across from City Hall .

Even if it’s not an original, though, we still love LOVE.

Originally published on January 12, 2006