The Electric LOVE crystallizes many of the major themes that Robert Indiana investigated throughout his career. The red, white, and blue palette of the sculpture brings to the fore Indiana’s life-long fascination with issues of American identity and symbolism. While Indiana explored the darker side of the American Dream in many works, this work strikes a celebratory, optimistic note.
Indiana created his first LOVE sculpture in 1966 in carved aluminum, and returned to the subject throughout his career to explore different formal variations, each with its own distinct power of expression. The Electric LOVE is also a continuation of his earlier electric works, EAT (1964), created for the 1964 World’s Fair, and The Electric EAT (1964–2007). Like these works, The Electric LOVE draws part of its expressive strength from the playful sequence of lights that animate its surface, at once recalling the lights of roadside diner signs and penny arcades that played such a pivotal role in Indiana’s iconography. The play of dazzling lights evokes both Indiana’s celebration of American culture and the excitement of love, while relating back in a playful way to the idea of divine or spiritual love that permeated Indiana’s initial conception of the theme.