Thursday, 11 March 2010

US postal service abstract expressionist stamps

Wow the Americans believe and commit. A general observation perhaps but it can be seen from the activity in the United States that abstraction is not only breathing it is running. And it would seem that there are cheerleaders from all sectors waving flags and cheering it on. I am envious of how integral it seems to be and of the corporate support it attracts.

The US Postal Service has released a set of stamps that celebrates Abstract Expressionism. A miniature exhibition in 44c stamps has been curated by Ethel Kessler and historian Jonathan Fineberg. Each stamp includes the artist’s name and verso text that identifies the painting and briefly tells something about the artist.

Here is the List of works:List of Stamp Artwork

* The Golden Wall (1961) — Hans Hofmann (1880–1966)
* Romanesque Façade (1949) — Adolph Gottlieb (1903–1974)
* Orange and Yellow (1956) — Mark Rothko (1903–1970)
* The Liver Is the Cock’s Comb (1944) — Arshile Gorky (1904–1948)
* 1948–C (1948) — Clyfford Still (1904–1980)
* Asheville (1948) — Willem de Kooning (1904–1997)
* Achilles (1952) — Barnett Newman (1905–1970)
* Convergence (1952) — Jackson Pollock (1912–1956)
* Elegy to the Spanish Republic No. 34 (1953–1954) — Robert Motherwell 1915–1991)
* La Grande Vallée 0 (1983) — Joan Mitchell (1925–1992)

It is interesting that Franz Kline is missing from the set, who according to The Times top 200 most popular artists is more valued than Robert Motherwell. ( Surprisingly Van Gogh didn't appear anywhere in the list.) I personally would have liked them to have included Philip Guston in the collection of stamps but perhaps his later works excluded him.

Still despite these omissions this is a delightful set of stamps.

In a more modest way the British have in the past used abstract painters as in this example using Terry Frost to promote Entente Cordiale.


  1. I think Philip Guston's later work is exactly why there should be a stamp for him! But it wouldn't really go with perceived history of Abstract Expressionism. Where's Mark Tobey and Helen Frankenthaler, for a more rounded history..

  2. I could not agree more regarding the omission of Franz Kline from this set. Excellent commentary, and I'm glad to have some across your blog. Cheers!