Artist George Morrison (Chippewa) (1919-2000) is an artist who left his native Minnesota to study art in New York in the 1940s. He became a member of the group of abstract expressionists who transformed painting. Chippewa is featured in a new line of US Postal Service (USPS) stamps.
Five works are featured in the Forever stamp set. They span Morrison’s entire career, from his geometric 1949 work on paper, The Sun and the River, to his distinctive, brightly colorful landscape paintings of the 1980s and an untitled 1995 pencil composition.
Collectively, these works reflect his great contributions to Abstract Expressionism and Native American Modernism, which were fully recognized later in his career when he returned to Minnesota. They also testify to his position in two communities – as one of the very few artists of color in the very white abstract expressionist movement, and as a Native American artist who creates works that largely reject traditional imagery.
Highlighting Morrison’s paintings and work on paper, the stamp series pays special attention to his artwork, which omits Native American imagery and techniques. In the 1970s, Chippewa began to incorporate some of the more open Native American processes and materials into his practice. George Morrison started sculpting. At first, these were collage-like assemblies, approaching the proportions and compositions of landscapes with found snags, and then monolithic sculptures with abstract patterns of tree faces.
George Morrison once wrote that he never tried to prove with his art that he was an Indian. “However, some distant allusion to the rock from which I was hewn, a preoccupation with a textural surface, a mystery of structural and organic element, a mystery of the horizon or the colors of the wind may remain deeply hidden.”
The Morrison stamps, which come in sheets of 20, are available for $11.60. This is the second set of Forever stamps recently issued by the USPS honoring the Native American artist. In January, the Postal Service unveiled a portrait of black and Ojibwe sculptor Edmonia Lewis as the latest in a series of Black Heritage stamps.