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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Abstract Expressionist Stamps

Yesterday I went to the post office and purchased stamps- to my delight the commemorative offering was "Abstract Expressionists." The stamps feature paintings by Hans Hofmann, Arshile Gorky, Adolph Gottlieb, Joan Mitchell, Clyfford Still, Barnett Newman, Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollack, Robert Motherwell and Mark Rothko.
One can only imagine how these artists would view the stamps which reference a period in American art. After seeing some of these large scale paintings in person I am amused by the stamp-sized scale but also think something has been lost. As these 44USA stamps travel around the globe and arrive in far off lands I have little doubt few will have seen these paintings or will understand them for the powerful message in their scale. The stamps, sadly reduce the iconic value of the works to little more than visual confusion.
No doubt, to commemorate is to preserve in memory but in this case the celebration- stamps issued by the United States Postal Service seems the strangest of possible efforts to remember the abstract expressionists.

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