Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Polish Cat Stamps: A Lesson In Cuteness

It was hard to say exactly why I did not let out an “Ooooooo cute!” when I came upon these sheets of cat stamps from Poland.

At first I thought that by finding them in Yale’s Beineke collection, I assigned them more gravitas than I would your average cat stamp. But I wasn’t really convinced. Then I realized, that there must be some sort of “multiple-effect” operating, if there is such a thing. Array anything in a fine enough grid and you read the grid, not the image. And while grids have many wonderful qualities, let’s face it, they are not cute.

I happened to be looking through "Suspects, Smokers, Soldiers, and Salesladies," a wonderful collection of collages by Ivan Chermayeff and was glad to have this "theory" of multiples confirmed as a design axiom. Here’s what he says:
What about seeing several things repeated? Repeating is an act that forces one to view the act instead of the actor. If something ugly is repeated and remains ugly, it only means that it has not been repeated often enough. Repeating is like enlarging in this respect because if something ugly is big, then it only means that it was not made big enough. The Saint Louis arch is horrendous as an airport souvenir and quite magnificent as the gateway to the city… Supermarket shelves prove that the visual repetition of the worst possible packages can be a delight, which sometimes even surpasses the repetition of the best packages.

As the sheets were undated, I went elsewhere to find when they were issued. That’s when I came upon a listing for them on Etsy, arrayed as single stamps of a series. They date back to 1964.

Oooooooo, how cute!!!!!

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