In the 1990s I had been curating a series of annual events titled AMERICAN MASTERS which showed at Museum of Modern Art, Rio de Janeiro, Museum of Modern Art, Sao Paulo and other museums across Brazil. I had put Indiana in one of the exhibitions and created with him AMOR, an instant hit in Brazil. A number of artists from my generation felt Indiana, an artist I connected with since I was 13, considered Indiana washed up, a burn out and irrelevant. This was upsetting to me and I wanted to reintroduce Indiana to my generation and the next.
I called Bob and went up to visit him at his mansionlike home on the shore of Vinalhaven, an island off the coast of Rockland Maine. I spent several days there and Bob informed me that my idea to do The Book of Love, a landmark portfolio of 12 Love prints with 12 Love poems by Indiana, was a bad idea. At that time, Love prints were $100 and Bob, based on that, felt that Love had run its course. I disagreed. I felt it was a brand that was inactive and re-activating it would be both interesting and successful. Bob cautioned that I would lose all my money, which at first seemed like it might happen.
I produced the portfolio in an edition of 200 plus another edition with a fabricated metal case. Unfortunately, the vision we both had for the case was not realized in 1995 so we had to circle back to it when technology could match what we imagined it would look like. To get Love to resonate in the market I collaborated with Bob to make Absolute Indiana, which ran on the back cover of Sotheby’s catalogues and curated Book of Love shows in 2 cities. As I am both proud of and prejudice to that portfolio I won’t make any comment on it, other than it came out at $2500 and sold in 2019 for $189,000.
The years it took to get Love back in art history likely gave me the idea to do the follow up, HOPE. I figured if I could bring an image back from the dead it should be similar to birthing a new masterpiece. The Book of Love has been out for 25 years as of the end of 2019. People have bought is for everywhere from $2500 to $189,000 and in every case, if you kept it you were smart. It’s timeless and the satisfaction one gets from making a timeless work of art is incredibly fulfilling. It’s a tell it to the grandkids moment.