After it is repainted, LOVE will be paraded around Philadelphia on a flatbed truck before being reinstalled in JFK Plaza. Photo: 2018 Morgan Art Foundation, Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Materials Conservation LLC.

Robert Indiana’s LOVE to Be Reinstalled in Philadelphia

On Valentine’s Day, LOVE will return to the streets of Philadelphia. The 830-pound aluminum sculpture by Robert Indiana will be paraded around the city’s downtown on a flatbed truck before it is returned to its permanent home in JFK Plaza. Last winter it was removed for a yearlong, $55,000 renovation, while JFK Plaza—also known as LOVE Park—underwent a redesign. 

According to Jon Hurdle at the New York Times, this public work has been the backdrop for many marriage proposals over the past forty-one years. And the countless people who have taken photos in front of it might be surprised to find that the work will look different upon its return. Representatives of the artist told city officials that the sections of the piece that were painted blue should be purple, which distinguishes it from many other versions installed around the world.

Temple University confirmed the original purple color, which can be seen in an archival photograph taken before the 1976 sculpture was repainted. “I was astounded because no one here remembered it as anything but red, green, and blue,” Philadelphia’s public art director, Margot Berg, told Hurdle.

Since the sculpture has become an icon of downtown Philadelphia, Berg was worried that this drastic change might shock people. According to local press coverage, however, people seem intrigued by the color change more than anything else. “As long as they bring it back, that’s all that matters,” said local electrician Charles Cook.