New Stamps From USPS Will Celebrate Modern Art

The year 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of the Armory Show, a groundbreaking art exhibition that helped spark the modern art movement in the United States. The U.S. Postal Service will commemorate the occasion with the issuance of the Modern Art in America stamp sheet.

This gorgeous pane of self-adhesive Forever® stamps features a dozen masterpieces created between 1912 and 1931. For design purposes and to preserve the horizontal or vertical orientation of the artworks, the stamp sizes vary.

ModernArt-Forever-Pane-BGv1

Stuart Davis’s vibrant depictions of contemporary commercial objects made him an important precursor of the later Pop artists. His oil-on-canvas painting, House and Street (1931), presents two views of a street in New York, forcing the viewer to be in two places at once.

Charles Demuth, a leading watercolorist of his era, created memorable “poster portraits” of several of his friends, including the poet William Carlos Williams, the subject of the work I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold (1928), in oil, graphite, ink, and gold leaf on paperboard.

Aaron Douglas was the most important visual artist to emerge from the Harlem Renaissance. The gouache-on-paper painting, The Prodigal Son (1927), was created in a modernist style that has been described as “Afro-Cubism.”

Arthur Dove was one of modern art’s earliest abstract painters and was probably the first American artist to paint a totally abstract canvas. Dove was interested in attempting to duplicate sound as colors and shapes. The oil-on-canvas painting, Fog Horns (1929), suggests the peal of foghorns at sea.

Marcel Duchamp, an important forerunner of the Pop art and conceptual art movements, outraged and disturbed many viewers by irreverently flouting artistic convention. His oil-on-canvas painting, Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 (1912), was the most talked-about work at the Armory Show of 1913.

Marsden Hartley was one of America’s greatest modernist painters. His oil-on-canvas work, Painting, Number 5 (1914-15), is an abstract composite portrait of Karl von Freyburg, a young German officer who was killed in World War I.

John Marin was the preeminent watercolorist of his era. He transformed the medium by experimenting with abstraction, such as in his watercolor-on-paper painting, Sunset, Maine Coast (1919).

Gerald Murphy produced only about a dozen works in less than ten years as a practicing artist, yet today he is recognized as a significant painter whose work prefigured the Pop art of the 1960s. The oil-on-canvas painting, Razor (1924), typifies Murphy’s work in its detailed depiction of commonplace objects.

Georgia O’Keeffe was one of the foremost painters of the 20th century. Widely known for her close-up flower paintings, O’Keeffe also famously painted urban and desert landscapes, including this oil-on-canvas painting, Black Mesa Landscape, New Mexico / Out Back of Marie’s II (1930).

Man Ray was associated with some of the most important artistic movements of the 20th century—chief among them Dadaism and Surrealism—and is best known for his photography. His gelatin-silver print, Noire et Blanche (1926), is from a series of photographs juxtaposing a woman’s face with a Baule mask (or a replica) from West Africa.

Charles Sheeler explored the balance between abstraction and realism in his photographs and paintings, which often depicted aspects of the mechanized modern world. By titling this oil-on-canvas painting American Landscape (1930), Sheeler explored the relationship between rural traditions and his modern subject matter.

Joseph Stella, America’s first Futurist painter, is remembered for his multiple images of the Brooklyn Bridge and other iconic New York scenes. The oil-on-canvas painting, Brooklyn Bridge (1919-1920), has been read as a comment on the tension between technological achievement and the spiritual dimension implicit in any human endeavor.

The Modern Art in America stamp sheet will be issued in 2013. An official release date has not yet been set, but the sheet is currently available for pre-order.

Art © Estate of Stuart Davis/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Art © Estate of Honoria Murphy Donnelly/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Art © Heirs of Aaron Douglas/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Art © Man Ray Trust/ARS/ADAGP 2012
Art © 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris/Succession Marcel Duchamp
Black Mesa Landscape, New Mexico/Out Back of Marie’s II, 1930 © Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
Art © 2011 Estate of John Marin/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Art © The Estate of Arthur G. Dove/Terry Dintenfass, Inc.

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About USPS Stamps

The Postal Service™ is proud of its role in portraying the American experience to a world audience through the issuance of postage stamps and postal stationery. Each year the Postal Service issues commemorative stamps reflecting subjects of national significance and appeal. More than 160 years of stamp development has yielded an incredible archive of imagery and commentary reflecting American culture and society. Even in this fast-changing world, stamps are still a versatile and convenient method of postage. And stamp collecting is a lifetime hobby that is fun and educational for all ages. Stamp collecting is easy to start without a big investment. It is also a great way to learn about the world and its many wonders, opening the door to an exciting universe of history, science, geography, the arts, technology, and sports. Our mission is to provide universal service that is prompt, reliable, efficient, affordable, and self-sustaining. Throughout its history the Postal Service has grown with the nation, binding it together by ensuring that everyone, everywhere, has the same ability to communicate regardless of technological change.