S&H Green Stamps (64 Green Stamps) is a Pop icon that reconfigured the boundaries of painting. Visually stunning, it provides a crucial insight into Warhol's artistic development. Painted contemporaneous to the Campbell's Soup Cans, S&H Green Stamps (64 S&H Green Stamps) embodies the seriality that defines Warhol's most fertile years and his status as the premiere Pop artist. A small series of eponymous works, the S&H Green Stamps are notable as they led directly to Warhol's ubiquitous use of silkscreening. Immediately recognized as seminal works, the S&H Green Stamps were among the first Warhols to enter venerable private collections, among them the Tremaine Family and Mark Moynes. The present example was acquired by the renowned collector Betty Asher in 1962 on a visit she made with the storied gallerist Irving Blum to Warhol's studio.
Warhol's earliest Pop objects were of comic book characters, newspaper articles and advertisements for quotidian objects like Coca-Cola bottles. Warhol's signature style truly developed though when he started mining that ultimate pantheon to American consumerism--the supermarket--the origin of both his S&H Green Stamps and Campbell's Soup Cans. These are the first two subjects Warhol chose to employ for his earliest canvases with a single image replicated multiple times leading to his greatest compositional breakthrough in the 1960's, seriality.
In 1962, overwhelmed by the time commitments demanded by his evolving fascination with serial paintings, Warhol sought to devise a method to "print" his paintings. An early solution was to carve gum erasers into stamps to use as "paintbrushes." Though he utilized this method for specific elements of other paintings from this period, only the S&H Green Stamps and Airmail Stamps are almost wholly realized using this technique. The S&H Green Stamps are significantly more complex than the Airmail Stamps in the intricacy of their design and their use of two stamps to realize the multiple layers of imagery and color. This layering of the surface foreshadows the multiple screens that Warhol would begin using directly following the S&H Green Stamps when he turned almost entirely to silkscreening paintings. S&H Green Stamps (64 S&H Green Stamps) is a direct antecedent to Warhol's silkscreened paintings while also being one of his last truly hand-painted Pop objects.
Discussing the S&H Green Stamps, Donna De Salvo writes, "A sheet of S&H Green Stamps, each a picture within a picture, pulsate red and green as they cling to the surface of an easel-size canvas. The combination of colors, the grid produced by the repeated stamps, the flattening of forms and unevenness of inks make for an 'all-over,' painterly field; but nothing would seem to be further from a painting like Barnett Newman's Vir Heroicus Sublimas than Warhol's S&H Green Stamps. Warhol's painting refers to another abstraction, a kind of fake money, and the trading stamps consumers saved to purchase a much desired toaster or blender. Yet Warhol's painting could be described using words offered by Newman and his fellow painters, Adolph Gottlieb and Mark Rothko, who proclaimed in 1943, We favor the simple expression of the complex thought. We are for the large shape because it has the impact of the unequivocal. We wish to reassert the picture plane. We are for flat forms because they destroy illusion and reveal truth.' Warhol's painting also revels a truth, but unlike his predecessors, a truth without any promise of the absolute" (D. De Salvo, "Afterimage," Andy Warhol Retrospective, exh. cat., Tate Gallery, London, 2001, p. 47).
S&H Green Stamps (64 S&H Green Stamps)
Acrylic and pencil on linen
Signed and dated 'Andy Warhol/62' (on the overlap)
Pasadena Art Museum, New Paintings of Common Objects, September-October 1962, no. 24.
Albuquerque, Art Gallery, Selections from the L.M. Asher Family Collection, January-February 1964, no. 53
Riverside, University of California, Art Gallery, 3 Pop Artists, February 1972.
New York, Museum of Modern Art and London, Hayward Gallery, Andy Warhol: A Retrospective, February 1989-September 1990, no. 150 (illustrated in color).
POST-WAR & CONTEMPORARY ART
20 x 16 in. (50.8 x 40.6 cm.)
J. Coplans, "The New Paintings of Common Objects," Artforum, vol. 1, no. 6, November 1962 p. 28 (illustrated).
J. Coplans, Andy Warhol, London, 1970, p. 40 (illustrated).
R. Crone, Andy Warhol, New York, 1970, p. 237, no. 435 (illustrated).
R. Crone, Das Bildnerische Werk Andy Warhols, Berlin, 1976, no. 784.
D. Bourdon, Warhol, New York, 1989, pl. 97 (illustrated in color). D. Ashton, "Andy Warhol: Pro and Contra," Art International, no. 7, Summer, 1989, p. 71 (illustrated in color).
J. Yau, In the Realm of Appearances: The Art of Andy Warhol, New Jersey, 1993, no. 7 (illustrated).
M. Yonekura, Contemporary Great Masters 12, Andy Warhol, Tokyo, 1993, no. 66 (illustrated in color)
G. Frei and N. Printz, eds., The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonn/ae: Paintings and Sculptures 1961-1963, vol. I, p. 128, no. 106 (illustrated in color).
Betty Asher, Los Angeles, acquired from the artist, 1962