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.


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.

Our Favorite Links of the Week: Mail Art Edition

We’ve seen some amazing mail art in our time, and since the Internet makes it so easy to spread the love of letter-, envelope-, and postcard-based illustrations, we’re sharing some of our favorite sites and blogs that celebrate one of our favorite kinds of art!

Postmarked 2012 exhibits and then auctions off beautifully illustrated envelopes and letters from artists around the world. The proceeds benefit the Prison Library Project, which provides books and other educational material to prisons around the U.S. Submissions for this year’s auction will be accepted through the end of the month.

Serving as a repository for mail art competitions, exhibitions, and symposiums, Mail Art Project provides a forum for mail art enthusiasts to get involved in current projects around the world.

Mail Art Postcard Exhibition posts user-submitted photos of artfully decorated postcards that have been sent through the post.

With two exhibitions, two books, and more than 1,300 pieces of mail, Mail Me Art has brought together a diverse array of amateur and professional illustrators whose medium of choice is mail.

Are you a mail artist? We’d love to see some of your work! Share your art with us on Facebook, Twitter, or by email at uspsstamps [at] gmail [dot] com.

Happy Birthday, Katherine Dunham!

The Katherine Dunham stamp may not be released until late July, but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate her birthday today!

Born in Chicago in 1909, Dunham had a dream: that African-American dance be taken seriously as an art. She founded one of the first African-American dance companies in the U.S. She was also the first choreographer to develop a formal dance technique that combined Caribbean and African dance elements with aspects of ballet.

Dunham and her dancers received accolades in the U.S. and around the world, but they also met with racial prejudice. Not only did some hotels and restaurants refuse to serve them, but Dunham and her troupe also had to work against the widespread belief that African Americans were incapable of mastering formal dance techniques.

A powerful encounter with racial segregation took place in 1944, as she describes in this video from 2002.

Despite the obstacles, Dunham eventually realized her dream. Audiences worldwide flocked to her shows, and Dunham’s dance technique influenced a generation of African-American dancers and choreographers, including Alvin Ailey. Dunham choreographed dance sequences for films and opened a performing arts school in New York City. In 1963, she choreographed a new production of Verdi’s opera Aida for the Metropolitan Opera.

“I decided if I couldn’t win at the beginning I’d win at the end,” she said later. Indeed.

Happy birthday, Ms. Dunham!

Visit Beyond the Perf for more information about the Innovative Choreographers stamps, which will be issued July 28 in Los Angeles, California.

Twentieth-Century Bards Help Send Beautiful Notes

If you’re looking for a new spin on your stationery, the Twentieth-Century Poets notecards are a perfect way to add a bit of art and literature to your notes.

Featuring evocative illustrations by artist Vivienne Flesher, each of the 10 notecards also includes several lines of poetry from one of the great poets honored on the Twentieth-Century Poets pane (as well as postage!). Let the literary masters help you say it with these truly one-of-a-kind notecards. Your friends and family will love them!

This beautiful set of 10 cards makes a great gift, too, for the lovers of literature and art in your life. Quantities are limited, so make sure you get yours before they’re gone!

Hiding Under the Bed with Monsters, Inc. Stamps

The official date of issuance for the Mail a Smile (Forever®) stamps is less than two weeks away! These stamps, featuring Disney•Pixar characters—like Boo, Mike Wazowski, and James P. “Sulley” Sullivan from Monsters, Inc. (2001)—are an easy, fun way to put a smile on anyone’s face.

Inspired by memories of childhood fears, director Pete Docter and co-directors Lee Unkrich and David Silverman took audiences into a witty world where hard-working monsters like James P. Sullivan (Sulley) and his assistant Mike Wazowski scare children to harvest the energy in their screams and believe that human children are frighteningly “toxic.”

Using breakthrough computer technology, animators created an entirely imaginative yet believable world for monsters to live and work in. They also took the characters’ movements and expressions to a whole new level of perfection, including the great challenge of animating fur (and Sulley’s 2,320,413 hairs!). The delightfully imaginative tale delivered larger-than-life entertainment that earned it four Oscar nominations, including Best Animated Feature Film, Best Sound Editing, and Best Original Score, and an Academy Award for Best Original Song.

Since 1995, Pixar Animation Studios has won 29 Academy Awards. Responsible for almost every major breakthrough in computer animation, the company continues to reset the bar in technology with every film.

These bright, lovable stamps will be issued on Friday, June 1, at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort in Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Attendance is free and open to the public, but you must RSVP by today!: Will you be joining us for this magical event?

Disney/Pixar Materials: © Disney•Pixar