Summer 2003

Artist Project / Stampographic Panorama

A postal fantasia

Jonathan Herder

Postage stamps, which have long held my fascination and recurred throughout my work, are given full indulgence in my current practice. Using US stamps printed primarily between the 1940s and 1970s (a period of stamp production notable for its abundance of generously pictorial commemorative designs as well as quality engraving), my work derives from a desire to liberate the stamps’ graphic potency from the mundane confines of bureaucratic purpose, allowing a freer engagement of incomparable fantastic detail and potency of color. Although stripped of the textual prescriptions essential to the source material, something of the affirmative topical idealism persists in these reconfigured stampscapes, though in a space less calmed by certainty and stability.

Indeed, despite their portrayal of bounty and grandeur, these works, collaged from minute dissected and recombined fragments, unveil an uneasy and distinctively American psychic register: the submission of the individual subject to the vast indifference of unbridled space. For me, a vague air of peril comes through these diminutive windows on to our mythic American landscape.

Scrolling image of Herder’s entire stampscape, which was originally printed across six pages in the magazine.

Jonathan Herder is an artist living and working in Brooklyn.

If you’ve enjoyed the free articles that we offer on our site, please consider subscribing to our nonprofit magazine. You get twelve online issues and unlimited access to all our archives.