Contemporary Art

Ellsworth Kelly's Genius Honored With a Commemorative Stamp Collection

By Halina Loft

E llsworth Kelly’s eye-popping abstract style earned him remarkable acclaim during his lifetime – and today, four years after the artist’s death, Kelly’s legacy shows no sign of waning. Further proof: last month, the U.S. Postal Service announced that 10 of the artist’s greatest works will be commemorated as Forever Stamps.

The full Ellsworth Kelly Forever stamp sheet. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service.

Over a nearly 70-year career, Kelly made outsized contributions to post-war and avant-garde American painting, sculpture, and printmaking. As noted in the USPS press release, the artist was a master of deconstructing the color and space of reality into abstraction. Alongside fellow contemporary artists Mark Rothko and Kenneth Noland, Kelly’s experimentation minimalism and Color-Fields helped define the dominant artistic style of the 1960s and 1970s. And even when sized-down to fit in less than a square-inch, Kelly’s signature bold colors and dramatic lines are nearly as mesmerizing on a stamp as they appear in the original works.

Ellsworth Kelly, Green Blue Red, 1963. [Photo: Rocor, Flickr]

Of Kelly’s portfolio, the U.S. Postal Service chose to feature Yellow White (1961), Colors for a Large Wall (1951), Blue Red Rocker (1963), Spectrum I (1953), South Ferry (1956), Blue Green (1962), Orange Red Relief (for Delphine Seyrig) (1990), Meschers (1951), Red Blue (1964), and Gaza (1956). Kelly’s highest-selling work, Spectrum VI, is not included as one of the ten commemorative stamps; this work sold at Sotheby’s New York in November, 2007 for $5.1 million.

Ellsworth Kelly's Spectrum VIII, 2014 [Photo: Fred Romero, Flickr]

Even If you don’t plan to send a letter in the near future, you can still take part in the appreciation of Kelly’s canon: several of the works featured by the USPS, including Yellow White and Colors for a Large Wall, are on display at the Whitney Museum and MoMA in New York City.

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