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.
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.
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.
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.