Last week, the United States Postal Service, which is under the cloud of possible bankruptcy, issued the Innovative Choreographers stamps series with portraits of Isadora Duncan, Jose Limon, Katherine Dunham, and Bob Fosse. They were illustrated by the great James McMullan, known for his Lincoln Center Theater posters, and art directed/designed by Ethel Kessler.
The stamp design for Isadora Duncan reflects her interest in classical Greek dance forms and shows the seemingly effortless style that she developed. Radical for its time, her linking of movement and expressiveness garnered her worldwide critical acclaim. José Limón is shown in a performance pose. He frequently drew inspiration from history, literature, and religion, and used natural movement and gesture in his choreography. His virile, powerful works elevated the importance of the male dancer in modern dance. Many of Limón’s works are considered classics and continue to be performed today. Founder of one of the first African-American dance companies in the United States, Katherine Dunham was the first choreographer to develop a formal dance technique that combined Caribbean and African dance elements with aspects of ballet. She is shown in a pose from her critically acclaimed ballet L’Ag’Ya. Bob Fosse, celebrated for directing and choreographing musicals on both stage and screen, is shown on the set of Sweet Charity (1969). Fosse received one Oscar, three Emmys, and nine Tony awards during his career. Yet perhaps his greatest contribution was in making dance accessible to millions.
Using them is like posting an original McMullan poster every time you mail a letter.
You might also enjoy Steven Heller’s Design Dialogues, featuring interviews with 34 major designers, including Massimo Vignelli, Paul Rand, Milton Glaser, Ivan Chermayeff, and Tibor Kalman.