venerdì 13 febbraio 2009

Mail Art: Robert Watts

There can be considerable argument on who created the first artist postage stamp. The Dada artist Raoul Hausmann, associated with the Berlin Dada group, affixed a self-portrait postage stamp to a postcard in 1919. Yves Klein, the French Nouveaux Réaliste painter and conceptualist, negotiated a payment with a Parisian postal clerk in 1957, enabling him to mail an exhibition invitation with a special stamp of blue.

While Hausman, Klein, and Schwag, shared fleeting and isolated moments within the grasp of this newly emerging genre, it was Robert Watts, a member of the Fluxus group, who maintained a sustained productivity with both the creation of artist postage stamps and various other postal items throughout his career.

Watts' postal activities were not limited to the production of postage stamp sheets. His initial use of postal imagery pre-dated his involvement in Fluxus. His first works with postage stamps harken back to his youth. He was born in Burlington, Iowa, in 1923. By ten years of age, he was maintaining a postal album.
Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, writes in the 1990 Castelli exhibition catalog that, "First of all it seems necessary to understand that Robert Watts' relative isolation was voluntary: rather than following the published advice of his friend Allan Kaprow who advocated an affirmative art when suggesting that from the early 1960's onwards the artist would have to become a 'man of the world' Robert Watts seems to have followed Duchamp's prognosis that the artist of the future '...would have to work underground.'"

Robert Watts' first postage stamp sheet was the Safe Post/K.U.K. Feldpost/Jock Post issue of 1961. In the following year, he created a stamp sheet using similar borders with different interior imagery (for our purposes, we can title this Safe Post/K.U.K. Feldpost/Jockpost [1962]) Following this, he created Yamflug/5 Post 5 (1963), Blink (1963) and Fluxpost 17/17 (1964). After a twenty-year lapse in issuing a new stamp sheet, he began production again with Airmail Luna (1984), and Commemorative FBI Most Wanted (1986). Re-strikes of Blink and Safepost were also issued in the eighties.

Robert Watts by John Held Jr. (extracts)

Nessun commento: