Kelly Me Happy

©USPS 2019

Aside from delivering mail through rain, sleet or snow, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has released some amazingly beautiful—and sticky—mini works of art over the years. And, this spring, nothing could be more delightful than the issuance of stamps that honor the artist Ellsworth Kelly (1923-2015). Known for his use of bright, saturated colors, Kelly reduced what he saw into the most essential form. He created vibrant works of abstraction, distilling the elements into their fundamental nature.

Kelly is known for his focus on the dynamics between shape, form and color, based on real-life observations. While his body of work includes paintings, sculptures and works on paper, Kelly also created installations. In 2015, shortly before his death, Kelly gifted The Blanton Museum in Austin, Texas, the design concept for a 2,715 square foot stone building with colored glass windows, totemic wood sculptures, and fourteen black and white marble panels interpreting the stations of the cross. It is, and was, conceived as a site for joy and contemplation. In Kelly’s playful style, it is named Austin after the site for which it was destined. 

While we can’t always see his works in person, we can certainly enjoy them in published form. Check out the definitive book of Kelly’s work, written by Tricia Y. Paik and published by Phaidon. This book covers his prolific career that spanned seventy years. Designed by Project Projects, it is a rich, colorful presentation of Kelly’s output with most artwork printed one piece to a page (on coated paper!) 

The 2019 USPS release was art directed by Derry Noyes, and the 20 stamps feature 10 of Kelly’s works: 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). A detail from Blue Yellow Red III (1971) appears in the selvage, or edging. 

During the gray days of winter, peek at the colorful work of Ellsworth Kelly—when you send a hand-written note, when you visit another part of the country, or even when you pay a bill —it will Kelly you happy. 

Does that make sense?

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