Hans Peter Feldmann’s Stamp Collection: Paintings with Nudes

The German artist was a compulsive collector and appropriator of everyday ephemera. Explore his unique assortment of 150 postage stamps in an artist project first published in ArtReview a decade ago

Hans Peter Feldmann had a love of the seemingly banal and an eye for surprising details amidst the detritus of the everyday. Upon his death at the age of eighty-two on 26 May 2023, he had amassed an immense archive of images gathered from diverse sources ranging from fashion magazines to postcards, washing machine catalogues to family photographs. These would often be displayed in surprising combinations in his installations, infused as much with playful humour as with an unusual ability to take seemingly silly situations seriously. 

Born in 1941 in Düsseldorf, he described his interest in the visual arts as a symptom of the lack of pictures available in postwar Germany during his childhood. ‘The few I could get, I really wanted to see,’ he stated. He went on to study painting at the University of Arts and Industrial Design in Linz. Feldmann operated largely beyond the structures of the artworld for much of his life, with some critics deeming his work as little more than dime-store displays. He reached new audiences and recognition when he won the Solomon R. Guggenheim’s Hugo Boss Prize in 2011; at the age of seventy, he was the oldest-ever recipient. For his accompanying solo exhibition, he displayed the full $100,000 of prize money in one-dollar bills on the walls of the museum. 

Feldmann’s appropriation of images led him to be grouped with the Pop art that emerged in Germany during the 1960s, where he lived throughout his life, although his recontextualising of material and rejection of traditional exhibition structures defined him as a leading conceptual artist. He created artist books that refused the commercialisation of his work, which were distributed in unsigned and unlimited editions, including one that featured nothing but photographs of knees. He had a love of repetition and absurdity, which he saw as a reflection of our own reality. 

For ArtReview in May 2013, Feldmann presented a special artist’s project of 150 postage stamps showing paintings with nudes. Published with no accompanying text from the artist, it exemplifies his obsessive fascination with the communicative power of the wordless image, as well as his love of the ordinary, the everyday and the overlooked. This collection is published online for the first time on the occasion of his death.

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