When I imagine an artist, I picture a Parisian dabbing at a sprawling masterpiece between drags on a cigarette seated in an extravagantly long holder. He stands amid a motley sea of color, great splashes of vermillion and ultramarine and yellow ochre hiding the tarp on the studio floor. Somehow, not one lonely drop of paint adorns his Italian leather shoes with their pointed toes like baguettes.
In my grand visions, I overlook a slightly smaller medium: the postage stamp. Caught in my busy routine, I rarely stop to closely examine these gems. A square inch canvass can often reward the viewer more than a mural will. With his unique Picasso meets Dali style, Hans Erni rekindled my interest in stamp collecting. Born in Lucerne, Erni shared my Swiss heritage as well as boasting a considerable amount of artistic prowess. More than 90 postage stamps from Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and the United Nations feature his designs (American Sport Art Museum).
In addition to the traditional challenges associated with any artistic endeavor, a postage stamp’s size and shape constraints limit design possibilities. Through his clever use of line, color, and composition, Erni promotes his humanitarian philosophy through his works, despite the restrictions. In 1986, he wrote:
"I am convinced that it is possible to express something even on the smallest space - supposing that you have something to say... The designing of stamps brought me further, because I had to force myself to be as simple and as clear as possible, with a minimum of lines and colors. I understood that it is possible to realize a good work even with only one color” (Hans Erni – A Swiss Artist).
“Peace”, “Planetarium”, and “Ice Hockey - ...
... middle of paper ...
... a sense of movement and excitement. Erni expertly unites his image under one artistic style, even down to the unique font around the stamp’s borders.
Hans Erni captivated me with his bold artwork, which transcends physical size with ingenious design. He furthered his humanitarian goals by presenting concepts, places, and events through a medium few artists would consider. Instead of letting this art be exclusively stored in galleries and private homes, Erni pushes it into everyday use through the postal system. If anyone complains about the small size of the artwork, I challenge him to lick a stamp without holding it in front of his face.
American Sport Art Museum
Hans Erni – A Swiss Artist
Hans Erni – A Swiss Artist on Stamps
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