Archive for the '-art: modern' Category

Love / バレンタイン

February 15, 2020

26 January 1973, USA
Love Issue
design: Robert Indiana

I saw many people had a bunch of flowers on their way home from work yesterday.  Tons of energy was used to prepare roses to be ready and transported.  Then many florists raise their price up to three times on 14 February, which I did not know.

How can you do an environmentally friendly St. Valentine’s Day?

It is easy that you can express your love everyday and not make the day so special!  Or use this stamp and send a heart warming card.

I am sure the overlap of red and green ink is designed by the artist, to express his sculptural works in a two dimensional composition, without extra cost.

According to this postage archive, this stamp was sold very well but some people thought it was too hippy, and the next stamp featuring the word ‘love’ did not appear on US stamps until 1984.






Impossible object 3 / 不可能図形 3

August 22, 2018

16 February 1982, Sweden
“Impossible Object”
designer: Oscar Reutersvärd
engraver: Czesław Słania

The third stamp designed by Oscar Reutersvärd.  This one is also, is not possible to exist in the three-dimensional world.  A visual trick of perspective in a subtle and somehow gentle way – I like it!


Impossible object 2 / 不可能図形 2

August 8, 2018

16 February 1982, Sweden
“Impossible Object”
designer: Oscar Reutersvärd
engraver: Czesław Słania

The second stamp designed by Oscar Reutersvärd.  Again, not possible to exist in the three-dimensional world, thus called Impossible Object.


Impossible object / 不可能図形

July 19, 2018

16 February 1982, Sweden
“Impossible Triangle”
designer: Oscar Reutersvärd
engraver: Czesław Słania

Nine cubes are floating in the air – and if you look closely, you notice that this is an “impossible object“.  Oscar Reutersvärd is an artist who started to draw these figures earlier than Escher, in the 1930s when he was still 18 years old – and he made a lot.  It seems this stamp was designed by him, and engraved by Slania.  What a gorgeous collaboration yet humble looking – a stamp treasure!


cat’s shoulder / 猫の背中

January 30, 2018

13 February 2001, United Kingdom
Cats & Dogs
photographer: Henri Cartier-Bresson ( 1908-2004 )
design: Johnson Banks

With photography it is possible to capture a moment – yes that is why we cannot stop taking snaps.  Somehow Black & White shows a frozen moment clearer, I think.


Watch out for the dog / 犬に注意

January 21, 2018

13 February 2001, United Kingdom
Cats & Dogs
photographer: Richard Kalvar ( born 1944 )
design: Johnson Banks

My second stamp in the year of the dog is – a cat, sitting on a gate door.  Black & White photographs are not often used for stamps, but this series works nicely on colourful envelopes.


Happy New Year 2018 / 新年おめでとうございます

January 7, 2018

13 February 2001, United Kingdom
Cats & Dogs
photographer: Elliott Erwitt ( born 1928 )
design: Johnson Banks

I wish you all a happy new year in 2018!
The world is still in chaos – but let’s carry on our own creative year.

The Dog is the animal of the year in the Eastern zodiac – then I found that I have very few dog stamps.  Well, this one suits to the new year greetings the best…



Your heart is your health / ハートビート・バレンタイン

February 14, 2016


7 April 1972, Ireland
World Health Day – ‘Your heart is your health’
art work: Louis Le Brocquy

I looked up a stamp for St Valentine’s day – and found this set, and they were issued to draw attention to the importance of listening your heart beat.  The text is in Gaelic Language, and Slàinte! is used for a toast… like Cheers!  This is my first featured stamp from Ireland – I did not pay attention to their stamps until recently, but found some nice ones issued.

Then I found this article ‘A Visual Catalogue of Irish Commemorative Stamps 1929 – 2013‘ and the writer says these heart stamps are a ‘true graphic art nasty’ and she mentions this Malta heart stamp and wrote ‘almost bearable’.  Ummmm, I don’t agree with her at all!




hair comb / 髪に櫛

September 16, 2013

20 April 1974, Japan
“Finger” ( 1911 ) by Itō Shinsui ( 1898 – 1972 )
Philatelic Week
layout: Hitoshi Otsuka

This paining is showing 20 years earlier fashion than the previously featured stamp.  When the hair style was completed, the comb was often placed in the hair, part of the coiffure decorations.

I visited an excellent exhibition “Origins of the Afro Comb” at The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and saw many combs made in different materials.  In Japan the customs of showing combs in your hair came to an end around the 1930’s, but in Africa they are still used and expressing identity of their culture.




ケンブリッジのフィッツジェラルド博物館で11月3日まで開催されている『Origins of the Afro Comb』はとても面白い展覧会で、木や動物の骨、金属などのいろいろな素材で作られた6000年前からプラスティック製も加わった最近の櫛までが展示され、アフリカの歴史や文化を世界に示すツールとして櫛が今も髪に飾られている様子が紹介されています。

combing hair / くしけずる

September 13, 2013

20 April 1969, Japan
“Hair”  (1931)  by Kobayashi Kokei ( 1883-1957 )
Philatelic Week
layout: Hideo Hasebe

This was the first Japanese stamp featuring a painting of a topless female.  The artist Kobayashi Kokei was living in London between 1922 – 1923, where he copied Gu Kaizhi‘s “Admonitions Scroll‘ exhibited at the British Museum.

In this piece, he painted very delicate hair lines and the younger sister combing it, as well as depicting the fashion colours of 1930’s Japan.  His house was planned by Isoya Yoshida and it is reconstructed next to his museum in Jōetsu City.


女性の上半身裸が初めて日本の切手になったのは1969年です。画家の小林古径は1922年から翌年までロンドンに住んでいて、大英博物館で展示されていた顧 愷之(344-405)の作品「女史箴図巻」を模写して線描の練習をしたそうです。


Oak leaves and a cat / ナラの上の『黒き猫』

November 8, 2011

21 September 1979, Japan
‘Black Cat’ (1910) by Shunso Hishida (1874-1911)
layout: Yoshiaki Kikuchi

The cat is sitting on an Oak tree – we are more familiar with straight Oak trees, but sometimes it is bendy and provides a good place for a cat.

The painter Shunso Hishida started to bring innovative techniques into traditional Japanese painting around 1900.  He traveled to India, America and Europe between 1903-05, after which he even tried pointillism – but the Japanese painting authorities did not accept him at that time.  It is a pity that he died young and did not try to stir up the artistic circles further.




The Enchanted Owl / 魔法のふくろう

May 30, 2011

27 January 1970, Canada
Centennial of the Northwest Territories
design: Norman E. Hallendy & Sharon Van Raalte
based on a stone-cut print by Kenojuak Ashevak

Since last autumn I have not heard the sound of an Owl at all, until tonight.  I am really pleased to hear it!

This beautiful Owl stamp is based on an Inuit artist‘s work from 1960, named ‘The Enchanted Owl’.  How magical the Owl was in their tradition – I would like to find out.  In Canada, the indigenous people’s full political rights were entitled in 1960 – two years earlier than the Australian Aborigine – just 51 years ago.  That is a surprise.



Southern paradise / 南方楽園

September 29, 2010

21 September 1968, France
‘Arearea’ by Paul GauguinArearea‘ (1892)
engrave: Durrens

A retrospective of Paul Gauguin is starting tomorrow at Tate Modern in London.  In relation to this, there are TV and radio programs, talking about this artist’s life – it seems a lot of people think he was immoral.  Perhaps we have to see his works, to judge if he was a bit out of the way or was lucky to have a different approach to others of that time.

The title of this picture ‘Arearea’ means joyousness in Polynesian language. Interpretation of the original by engraver is very interesting – it was a challenge within limited printing colours as well, and it is done really well.



devil in your mind? / 魔がさす?

September 28, 2010

15 April 1967, France
‘The Carriage of Pere Junier’ by Henri Rousseau
engraved by Pheulpin

I feel really tired today and realise that I drive meanly.  Not allowing anyone cuts in, didn’t give way when one was wanting to cross.  Then I saw this stamp, picture from Henri Rousseau – ah, this is it! A little devil sitting in my car, doesn’t allow me to be generous…

The original picture was painted in 1908, now owned by Musée de l’Orangerie.  This intaglio interpretation is nicely done, trying to evoke its original’s atmosphere.


『ジュニエ爺さんの二輪馬車』という題のついたアンリ・ルソーの代表作の一枚(オラン ジュリー美術館収蔵)は亡くなる2年前の1908年に描かれ、丁寧な凹版印刷で切手になっています。小さな悪魔の顔が意外とかわいいので、拡大します。


Marianne de Cocteau / コクトーのマリアンヌ

August 15, 2010

23 February 1960, France
Marianne by Jean Cocteau
engrave: Albert Decaris

I visited Notre Dame de France in Soho, after reading about a fresco by Jean Cocteau.  Drawings are free, poetic, calm but somehow humorous.  He also made a fresco in the church of Milly-la-Foret near Paris, where he spent his last years, and two years before he died he designed a stamp.  I love this stamp and its chic lightness, which contrasts with the country’s heavy history.

ジャン・コクトーの描いたフランス共和国の象徴「マリアンヌ」。池澤夏樹の『異国の客』でコクトーが教会に壁画を残したことを知り、ロンドンのソーホーにある教会 Notre Dame de Franceのものを見に行きました。ユーモアをたっぷり含む軽やかな線描を、1959年末に8日間滞在して彼自身が描いたのだそうです。独特の「軽やかさ」とヘビーなフランスの歴史の対比が、大好きなこの切手の妙なのではないかと思います。

chilly morning / 『北方の冬』『朝の光へ』

February 18, 2010

20 April 1985
Philatelic Week
‘Winter in Northern Area’ and ‘Towards morning light’ by Yumeji Takehisa

Two more female portraits, painted both in 1921, by Yumeji Takehisa, an early Japanese commercial illustrator and book designer.

Somehow – maybe it is because the Japanese traditional paintings or wood prints are suitable for being transformed to stamp format – there are a lots of Japanese stamps issued under this category ‘beautiful ladies’.  Almost always portraits are made of anonymous female models, posed in front of artists.  This is not a category I am collecting stamps, but some of them are quite suitable for stamps.  They were my mother’s favorite stamps and as I put on ‘about this blog‘ post, I received a few letters with those stamps on.

原画:竹久夢二 (明治17 – 昭和9)



Black Ship Inn / 竹久夢二『黒船屋』

February 14, 2010

27 October 1980 Japan
‘Kurofune-ya’ painting by Yumeji Takehisa (1884-1934)

The artist Yumeji Takehisa was an early example of commercial illustratior and graphic designer, as well as a poet.  He was one of first artists who went abroad, tried to open a school for illustration and design.

This was painted on rolled silk on paper as ‘hanging’, around 1919.  The title of this painting ‘Black Ship Inn’ came from the wodden box the model is sitting on – a sign of an inn named after a large ship from America, led by Matthew C. Perry.  This ship, first arrived to Japan in 1853,  was the direct force for Edo Shogun to open the counrty.  Later, the image of Black Ship was turned positive, as symbol of Westernising and industrial development.

原画:竹久夢二 (明治17 – 昭和9)


when she was 80 years old / 80歳のお祝い

August 17, 2009

1991 Australia
150 Years of Photography
photo: ‘Tea Cup Ballet’ 1935 by Olive Cotton (1911-2003)

This Australian modernist woman photographer was 80 years old when this stamp was issued.  Very nice way to celebrate history of photography and also achievement of a pioneer female photographer.