Move over, Manhattan Beach Pier. There’s a new Instagram darling coming to town.
Just across the sand, to be more precise.
Thanks to a generous resident, billionaire philanthropist Warren Lichtenstein, the city will soon be home to an iconic “LOVE” sculpture.
The 8-by-8-foot stack of the letters “L” and a tilted “O” over “V” and “E” is one of dozens by the pop artist Robert Indiana seen in cities around the world.
An icon against an icon
Lichtenstein, founder and executive chairman of the hedge fund Steel Partners Holdings, is a fan of Indiana and purchased one from him years ago. It’s been sitting in the backyard of his Redondo Beach home near Torrance Beach.
Now a resident of The Strand in Manhattan Beach, Lichtenstein decided to share the sculpture with the community.
“It’s one of those pieces of art where all the kids like to climb on it and it’s photographed,” Lichtenstein said in an interview. “I figured what a great thing it would be to put it in Manhattan Beach.”
He got the idea while taking a walk on The Strand last year with another Manhattan Beach philanthropist, Skechers President Michael Greenberg.
The “LOVE” sculpture would be a nice addition to the pier, where a $4 million renovation of the Roundhouse Aquarium spearheaded by Greenberg’s foundation is underway, Lichtenstein thought.
He approached the city in October about loaning it long term.
The Manhattan Beach City Council will consider four locations near the pier at its March 6 meeting—three are in the south pier parking lot and one is in the north lot.
City staff members are hammering out the details of a 10-year loan agreement with Lichtenstein, City Manager Bruce Moe said.
Manhattan Beach will spend $25,000 from the Public Art Trust Fund to move the 800-pound-plus sculpture with a crane, construct a concrete pedestal for it and add upgrades to the site, including bike racks and lighting.
“We’re so excited at the prospect of having such an iconic piece of art in Manhattan Beach through the generosity of Warren Lichtenstein,” Moe said.
The sculpture, made of Corten steel, is rusty in color and will be lighted at night.
Six to eight weeks after the agreement is signed, the sculpture will be moved in a stakebed truck to the public works yard, making for a spectacle.
Only two others are on display in California: one is outside the Panda Restaurant Group headquarters in Rosemead and the other is a painted version on a tennis court on a former Nike missile site in San Francisco.
“I hope the community enjoys it and lots of pictures are taken with it and everybody has a fun time with it,” Lichtenstein said.
“LOVE” is Indiana’s best-known work. The image was designed as a Christmas card for the Museum of Modern Art in 1965, then became a postage stamp. The first sculpture was made in 1970.
In 1969, Indiana wrote that “LOVE” was “the culmination of ten years of work based on the original premise that the word is an appropriated and usable element of art, just as Picasso and the Cubists made use of it at the beginning of the century, which evolved inevitably, in both my ‘LOVE’ paintings and sculpture, into the concept that the word is also a fit and viable subject for art.”
Martin Betz, the city’s cultural arts manager, said the installation “stands for what Manhattan Beach believes in.”
The sculpture is one of only two in its size and color, he said.
“This is one of the most iconic images in contemporary art,” Betz said. “The city of Manhattan Beach is lucky to have such generous community members. The timing of the installation and the significance of the word ‘love’ could not be more timely.”