May 25, 2001

United States and Mexico Honor Artist With Postage Stamp

Washington, D.C. — Frida Kahlo, the world-renown Mexican artist best known for her striking self-portraits, will be honored by the U.S. Postal Service next month with the issuance of the Frida Kahlo commemorative stamp on June 21 in Phoenix, Ariz. This is the first Hispanic woman to be honored with a U.S. postage stamp. The Mexican Postal Service will issue a similar Frida Kahlo stamp on the same day.

The U.S. ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. (MST) at Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 North Central Avenue. The 34-cent Frida Kahlo stamp will be available at Phoenix post offices starting June 21. It will be available at post offices across the country beginning the following day.

"The Postal Service has a proud tradition of honoring those special people who have had a significant influence on American history, art and culture," said Benjamin P. Ocasio, Vice President, Diversity Development, for the Postal Service, who will be the dedicating official for the event.

"The Friday Kahlo stamp allows us to reach out across communities to let everyone know that this organization has a commitment to diversity that involves both our customers and our employees. Out stamp program is a wonderful reflection of this commitment," he said.

Joining Ocasio will be Charles Davis, District Manager, Postal Service; James K. Balinger, Director of the Phoenix Art Museum and Skip Rimsza, Mayor of Phoenix.

Phoenix Art Museum is currently featuring the exhibit "Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Twentieth-Century Mexican Art. The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection" at the museum's Steele Gallery until June 24. The Gelman Collection is widely regarded as the world's most significant private holding of 20th century Mexican art, and contains the painting featured on the stamp, Kahlo's "Self-Portrait with Necklace."

Kahlo was born in Coyoa-can, Mexico, on July 6, 1907. Stricken by polio in early childhood and seriously injured in a streetcar accident at the age of 18, Kahlo endured severe pain throughout her life. The artist's physical suffering, her inability to bear children, and her tumultuous marriage to Mexican muralist Diego Rivera are reflected in much of her work.

While the subject of Kahlo's art was primarily autobiographical, her style was influenced by 19th century art and Mexican folk art traditions. During her lifetime she exhibited her paintings in New York city, Paris and Mexico City.

After her death in 1954, Kahlo's audience grew. Her work has significantly influenced Chicana artists in the United States, and since the mid-1970s she has been a role model for women in the Mexican-American and feminist communities.

The stamp art features and oil-on-metal self-portrait painted in 1933 and signed Frieda Kahlo. Until the late 1930s, she spelled her name with an "e", in the German manner— although it is spelled Frida on her birth certificate.

Designed by Richard Sheaff of Scottsdale, Ariz., the pane includes 20 stamps of one design, selvage photo and the quotation: "I paint-self-portrait because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best." The color photograph of Kahlo on the selvage is a carbro print made by renowned portrait photographer Nickolas Muray. Muray did not date his photographs, but this one was probably taken in the late 1930s.

To see the Frida Kahlo stamp, and other forthcoming stamps and stationary in the 2001 U.S. stamp program, visit www.usps.com and click on "Stamp Release Schedule." To see previous releases, select "Index of Stamp Issues."

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