Saturday, March 20, 2010

Abstract Expressionist Stamps From the P.O.

The U.S. Post Office recently released a new set of ten beautiful 44c stamps, each featuring a painting by an American abstract expressionist painter. The artists featured are Hans Hofmann, Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell, Joan Mitchell Adolph Gottlieb Barnett Newman, Clyfford Still, Arshile Gorky and Willem de Kooning. I can hardly wait to use them; my friend Pam will get the first specially stamped letter.

The P.O. really did a good job of it: the stamps are big and vary in proportion according to the original canvases. The back side of the page features information about each artist and identifies the title of each featured painting. And there is a wonderful quote by Robert Motherwell: "The function of the artist is to express reality as felt."

One flaw, as I see it. Of the ten artists featured, only one is a woman. Yes, the attention given to the A.E. movement was mostly to the male artists, but there were plenty of women who should have received equal or more attention. I would like to see stamps in tribute to Helen Frankenthaler, Elaine de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Jane Frank, Perle Fine, Mary Abbott, Sonja Sekula, Elaine Hamilton, Grace Hartigan, and Hedda Sterne. (And I'm sure there are more.) These are names that are not so familiar to us, right? Time to help set the record straight.


  1. Aren't they wonderful! I'm headed back to the U.S. for a visit and even though I can't use them in Germany, I want them. Thanks for this. You are so right to mention the unbalanced representation with only one A.E. artist.