LOVE sculpture by Robert Indiana joins John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park

Posted on Thursday, July 25, 2019

For Immediate Release
Contact: Barbara Briggie-Smith or Jordan Powers
Tel: 515.271.0343 or 515.271.0344
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Local philanthropists John and Mary Pappajohn have donated funds to the Des Moines Art Center for the purchase of LOVE by American Pop artist Robert Indiana for placement in the Pappajohn Sculpture Park. An icon of American Modern Art, LOVE, 1969-1999, is the signature work of the artist. Beginning in 1964, Indiana began to create images and objects using the word LOVE. Indiana maintained that a single word could be a viable subject of art by harnessing its emotional charge and the power of language. The artist states, “Here the quartered field is filled with the four letters of love, as compactly and economically as possible, but with my interest in the circle still called to mind by the tilted ‘o’.” With the universality of the word and subject in mind, the Museum of Modern Art selected his image of LOVE as its Christmas card in 1965, and the US Postal Service created a stamp with the image in 1973. It was quickly adopted by the “love generation” and enjoyed mass appeal, which continues today. 

Other works in the edition of this particular format and colors are in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Tate Modern in London. Many museums around the world, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Brooklyn Museum, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, National Gallery of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, among others, hold additional works by the artist. 

“We are thrilled with the addition of the artist Robert Indiana’s iconic sculpture, LOVE, in the Pappajohn Sculpture Park,” John and Mary Pappajohn said. “We know it will become a favorite of Des Moines residents and visitors alike.”

“The Art Center is forever grateful to receive this gift from John and Mary for the enjoyment of the community,” said Des Moines Art Center Director Jeff Fleming. “LOVE – I cannot imagine a more fitting gift as we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park this year.”

Images of artwork available upon request. Please email

About the Des Moines Art Center

Recognized by international art critics as a world-class museum in the heart of the Midwest, the Des Moines Art Center has amassed an important collection with a major emphasis on contemporary art. The collection’s overriding principle is a representation of artists from the 19th century to the present, each through a seminal work. This accounts for an impressive collection that ranges from Edward Hopper’s Automat to Jasper Johns’ Tennyson, Henri Matisse’s Woman in White, Georgia O’Keeffe’s From the Lake No. 1, Francis Bacon’s Study after Velásquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X, Bill Viola’s Ascension, and Cecily Brown’s Half-Bind.

The Art Center’s physical complex marries with the collection for a totally integrated experience. The collection is housed in three major buildings, each designed by a world-renowned architect – Eliel Saarinen, I. M. Pei, and Richard Meier. With the exception of special events, admission to the museum is free.

In September 2009, the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park opened in Des Moines’ Western Gateway Park. Philanthropists John and Mary Pappajohn have provided funding for and donated 28 sculptures by internationally acclaimed contemporary artists to the Des Moines Art Center. The collection of sculptures by such artists as Louise Bourgeois, Deborah Butterfield, Willem de Kooning, Olafur Eliasson, Keith Haring, Ellsworth Kelly, Jaume Plensa, Richard Serra, Joel Shapiro, and Mark di Suvero, is the most significant donation of artwork to the Art Center in a single gift in the museum’s history. The Pappajohn Sculpture Park was created in collaboration with the Pappajohns, the City of Des Moines, the Des Moines Art Center, and numerous corporate and private donors.

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