Showcasing Andy Warhol’s life-long fascination with the repetition of commercial imagery, S. & H Green Stamps (F. & S. II.9) features an image of the S & H Green Stamp trading coupon repeated in a serial fashion across the entire picture plane. Early on in his career, Warhol attempted to find a method to ‘print’ his paintings and this work displays one of his initial solutions, carving into a rubber eraser to create a printing stamp. S. & H Green Stamps along with another print from the series, Airmail Stamps (1962), are the only works of Warhol’s that use this technique to create the entire image.
In this print, Warhol deliberately subverts the all-over compositions of Jackson Pollock and other Abstract Expressionists with the lack of focal point in the print, mocking the grandeur of these artist’s work by using a banal and repetitive motif. The resulting effect is an electric picture of plane of stamps pulsating in red and green, each a picture within a picture.
Warhol’s choice of subject matter, trading stamps consumers save to purchase mass-produced commodities, a fake money of sorts, is significant to the point he is making on the superficiality of the capitalist American consumer market. Enlarged onto the scale of fine art, Warhol uses his innovative stamp technique to create two-dimensional representations of the commercial stamp object. The result produces a deliberate ambiguity between art and life,and reality and representation.