2015 49¢ Martín Ramírez
These stamps feature the art of Martín Ramírez, whose work was virtually unknown during his lifetime. Today, he is considered one of the greatest artists of the 20th century.
When an artist feels compelled to create, he finds a way to express himself despite difficult circumstances. For Martín Ramírez (1895-1963), hospitalization made producing his masterpieces a challenge.
Born in Mexico, Ramírez came to America seeking a better life. Instead he faced more hardship. Jobs were difficult to find in California during the Great Depression, and being unable to speak English further reduced his chances of finding work.
When Ramírez was found homeless and did not speak, he was sent to a hospital. Diagnosed as a schizophrenic, Ramírez became a lifelong resident of DeWitt State Hospital. It was there he created art from discarded and improvised materials.
Using junk mail, paper bags, and examining table paper, the artist prepared large canvases by gluing the pieces together using mashed potatoes and his saliva. He improvised for additional supplies as well, crushing crayons in homemade pots to make paint.
The art that resulted from these primitive supplies was surprisingly skillful and intricate. With recurring themes of religious symbols, burros, and trains, Ramírez’ paintings used perspective and patterns to make masterpieces only the artist himself knew the true meaning of. In spite of his bleak surroundings, Ramírez created beauty that is still enjoyed more than a half century later.
49¢ Ramirez: First-Class Mail Rate
Issue Date: March 26, 2015, opening of the Martín Ramírez Forever art exhibit
City: New York, NY, Ricco/Maresca Gallery
Quantity: 20,000,000 stamps
Printed By: Banknote Corporation of America for Sennett Security Product
Printing Method: Lithographed in sheets of 240, with twelve panes of 20 per sheet
Perforations: Serpentine Die Cut 10 ¾
The stamp images are details from five of Ramírez’s more than 450 drawings and collages.