A marriage of historic measure: Indiana’s ‘Love’ and The Berlin Wall

Iconic image and the ultimate Cold War symbol create one cool piece of art, up for bid at Heritage Auction Galleries, Dec. 11
The work of Robert Indiana (b. 1928) often consists of bold, simple images: EAT, HUG, and, of course, LOVE, which was featured on an 8-cent U.S. Postal Service stamp in 1973. Nearly 20 years later, Indiana’s iconic work and the fall of the Berlin Wall would come together to symbolize freedom and unity.
A businessman in Maine purchased a substantial collection of sections from the East German side of the Wall soon after it fell. They arrived safely on U.S. soil in 1990 and the owner decided to commission art work from internationally renowned artists on each section. Indiana was among those asked to contribute. In 1991, his original sculpture, WALL/LOVE, was unveiled at Art Expo in New York. It features Indiana’s iconic “Love” image on one side and the word “Wall” on the other.
Now, almost 40 years after Indiana first created his most famous work, almost 20 years after The Berlin Wall came down, and 17 years after the two were brought together, they will be auctioned off as part of Heritage Auction Galleries’ Dec. 11 auction of 20th Century Art and Design at its Design District Annex.
“The piece represents the irony of how the Wall, once a symbol of oppression and the Cold War, became the definitive symbol of freedom and goodwill — a tangible reminder of the liberation of ideas as well as people,” says Thom Pegg, director of Heritage Auction Galleries’ 20th Century Art and Design department.
The Florida-based Outdoor Arts Foundation acquired the Berlin Wall collection, including Indiana’s WALL/LOVE piece, and initiated public art projects involving the collection. The Indiana piece is being auctioned to help fund these initiatives.
“Robert Indiana is a hugely important figure in the world of Pop Art,” Pegg says. “His renowned image of the word LOVE has been executed in many designs and mediums. Now, LOVE is not only a work of art, it’s a piece of history.”
The sculpture carries an estimate of $500,000-$700,000.
The 20th Century Art & Design Signature® Auction #5014 is scheduled for Dec. 11, 2008. For information, contact Thom Pegg at 214-409-1742 or ThomP@HA.com. To receive a complimentary catalog, call 1-800-872-6467, ext. 1150, and mention code HM15819, or register online at www.HA.com/HM15819.
Heritage’s Slocum Street Annex is located at 1518 Slocum Street, in the Design District of Downtown Dallas. Previews of the auction will take place Dec. 4-11 (M-F, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; and Sun, Noon-5 p.m. CT). Private viewings are available by appointment only beginning Nov. 15. Call 800-872-6467, extension 1742, to schedule.
To view this auction online, go to www.ha.com/5014, or for more information, call 800-872-6467.