On Tuesday, September 22, Pope Francis landed on US soil, launching a six-day historic visit to the United States of America. The Pope will visit Washington DC, New York City and Philadelphia. While the popular Pontifex Maximus will have more official welcome in Washington and New York, fulfilling his duties as Sovereign of the Vatican City and Pope of the Catholic Church, the City of Philadelphia is preparing more “informal” welcome. In order to honor His Holiness Pope Francis on the occasion of his visit to Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Association for Public Art announced the installation of the Robert Indiana AMOR Sculpture. The famous sculpture will be placed on the East Terrace of the Museum, thus overlooking the celebration of the Papal Mass that is scheduled for Sunday, September 27, 2015.
Robert Indiana is one of the leading figures in American art since the 1960s, and he has played a central role in the growth of assemblage art, hard-edge painting and Pop art. Among wider public, Indiana is probably best known for his LOVE image. The artist originally conceived the celebrated LOVE image in 1965 through a series of paintings. A year later, in 1966, Indiana conceived his editions of LOVE sculptures. His masterpiece quickly gained widespread recognition and public acclaim, entering into major private and public collections around the world, including and most significantly the City of Philadelphia. As the demographics of the United States changed significantly, the artist created the Spanish/Latin version of the LOVE sculpture, called AMOR (Spanish/Latin word for Love). However, the placing of the Latin version of LOVE sculpture is also inspired by the Pope’s own origin – his native language is Spanish, since he was born and lived in Argentina. AMOR was unveiled on Tuesday, September 22, before the start of the World Meeting of Families Congress. The Congress is the largest international Catholic gathering of families, held every third year in a different city around the world. More than a million people are expected to gather on Benjamin Franklin Parkway for the concluding Festival of Families on September 26, to be attended by Pope Francis, and again on September 27 for the Papal Mass.
In order to honor the Papal visit to the United States, a huge mural had been created in New York City (in New York, the Pope will address the United Nations General Assembly, and hold a multi-religious service at the 9/11 memorial site). So, Indiana’s AMOR is not the first piece of public art celebrating the visit of the Pope Francis. Timothy Rub, the George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Philadelphia Museum of Art issued a statement saying: With the installation of this generous loan atop our famous steps, we hope to add the most appropriate artistic note possible to Pope Francis’s visit to Philadelphia. This colorful 6-foot-high aluminum sculpture is on loan from the Morgan Art Foundation, courtesy of Simon and Marc Salama-Caro, who are dedicated to preserving and promoting Robert Indiana’s artistic legacy. While the Terrace of the Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of the Philadelphia’s most important landmarks, it will be one of the central points of the Pope’s visit to the city. Finally, in the traditional language of the Church: amor vincit omnia - love conquers all. So, the Indiana’s sculpture is a perfect sign welcoming the Papal visit to The City of Brotherly Love.
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Featured Image: AMOR Sculpture to be placed in the East Teracce of the Museum in Philly (courtesy of photos.iwishunu.com)