LOVE Conservation Project

    We’re committed to preserving our collection so that artworks can be enjoyed not only now, but also in the future. On January 9, Robert Indiana’s LOVE sculpture will temporarily go off view from our Dudley and Mary Louise Sutphin Mall to undergo conservation treatment. Accepted as the original version of Indiana’s LOVE sculptures, our LOVE is fabricated in Cor-Ten steel. Indiana was one of the first artists to work with this material and when it came into use in the 1960s, little was known about how it would withstand the outdoor elements over an extended period of time. Many of Indiana’s other works, including his later LOVE sculptures, are made using painted aluminum, which provides an added layer of protection to endure the elements.

    Prolonged contact with water has caused the Cor-Ten steel to corrode over time. The combination of Indianapolis’ climate and the shape of the sculpture have resulted in uneven drying, which has accelerated the deterioration. The uneven drying has also caused red, orange streaks on the surface of the sculpture, altering the intended appearance of the work. Water has penetrated the interior of the sculpture and become trapped, triggering internal corrosion and weakening the metal, which has resulted in holes and split seams throughout the sculpture.

    To assess the sculpture’s condition and develop a new conservation plan, the IMA worked with several consultants, including an outdoor sculpture conservation expert and a representative from the company who originally fabricated the sculpture. They recommended that the sculpture be removed from outdoor display in order to preserve the work. When conservation treatment concludes in spring 2017, LOVE will debut in its new home inside our Pulliam Family Great Hall, where it will welcome guests into the galleries as it has welcomed guests to the IMA campus for the past decade.

    The LaCrosse Family has offered a $10,000 challenge to help raise funds for the LOVE conservation and other important conservation projects required to care for the IMA’s world-renowned collection. Please help LOVE by making a gift today.

    The conservation is supported by the James LaCrosse Family.

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    Timeline

    A Legacy of LOVE

    1970
    - LOVE sculpture was fabricated at Lippincott, Inc. out of Cor-Ten steel and completed in May.
    - Arrived at the IMA as a loan on September 17.
    - LOVE first publicly exhibited as part of Seven Outside, the inaugural exhibition at the new 38th and Michigan Road location of the Indianapolis Museum of Art (October 25, 1970 through January 3, 1971).

    1971
    - LOVE traveled to Boston, where it was a focal point of the exhibition Monumental Sculpture for Public Spaces organized by the Institute of Contemporary Art, and shown at the Boston City Hall Plaza from October 2 through November 7.
    - Appeared in an L.S. Ayres department store ad, featuring the IMA building in background, in September.
    - Loaned to New York City, where it was displayed in Central Park from November 29, 1971 through January 5, 1972.

    1972
    - Returned to Indianapolis and displayed in front of the Indiana National Bank of Indianapolis from February 14 through March 25.
    - LOVE was put back on display at the IMA on the plaza level of Krannert Pavilion on August 23.

    1974
    - Loaned to Eli Lilly & Company in June, where it was filmed as part of the backdrop for a television commercial at the McCarty Street Plant.

    1975
    - IMA officially acquired LOVE. The purchase was made possible through many donations given in memory of Henry F. DeBoest.
    - Official dedication ceremony for LOVE at the IMA on October 22, 1975. Robert Indiana was in attendance.

    1988
    - Moved from Krannert Pavilion Plaza (Alliance Sculpture Court today) to a spot northeast of Krannert Pavilion—a safer location during the construction of the Hulman Pavilion and renovation of Krannert.

    1990
    - Protective ground covering extended and iron fence around LOVE removed.

    1992
    - “LOVE planning team” established, including conservator Helene Gillette-Woodard, Martin Radecki, various engineers, and Robert Indiana.

    1993
    - Maintenance report notes further corrosion expansion among seam of all three components.

    1995
    - Meeting to discuss the future of the LOVE sculpture.

    1996
    - Consulting meetings in May with Tallix engineers focused on potential approaches to Cor-Ten treatment. Meeting established two potential and contrasting treatment methods: “venting” vs. “sealing.” Opted for “sealing”.
    - Tallix engineers expressed concern that remedial welding method might only work on select areas.

    2002
    - De-installation of LOVE for treatment at Tallix.

    2005
    - LOVE arrives back at the IMA and is placed outside for display in January.
    - Dismantled and moved indoors to new location in Pulliam Family Great Hall in June.

    2006
    - LOVE dismantled for sandblasting in June, prior to move outdoors. June was chosen because it was a dry month to move LOVE back outside.

    2017
    - LOVE will undergo conservation treatment and move indoors for display.

    Image Credit

    Robert Indiana (American, b. 1928), LOVE, 1970, Cor-ten steel, 144 × 144 × 72 in. Indianapolis Museum of Art, Gift of the Friends of the Indianapolis Museum of Art in memory of Henry F. DeBoest. Restoration was made possible by Patricia J. and James E. LaCrosse, 75.174 © 2016 Morgan Art Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.