In the city of Thionville in the French département of Moselle, a large painting by the street artist MANTRA, born in 1987 with civil name Youri Cansell, has been emblazoned since 2017. On the house wall is an image of a collector’s showcase of exotic South American butterflies, including Morpho rhetenor (large blue butterfly), Catagramma species (top left), and a swallowtail (below the Morpho rhetenor).
Through perspectives and shading, the two-dimensional image creates the impression of spatial depth. This kind of art adds vibrancy to drab house walls, and in this case – though I don’t know if it was intentional or not – can also draw attention to social issues, such as the dwindling of biodiversity. This butterfly showcase is the subject of the last special issue stamp of the German Federal Post Office in the series “Optical Illusions” issued on October 7, 2021. Whereby it is not quite clear to me personally where the optical illusion is here. It is said in the official announcement that one gets the impression that these are real butterflies. There were and are real butterflies in these showcases!
But the stamp may be a good segue to the next series of stamps, which will feature works by street artists. The first one was released at the same time as the butterfly stamp and also features large-scale artwork on a house wall. Only this time in Berlin and created by the artist 1010. Here the impression is given of being drawn into the house. For me rather an optical illusion.
- Design: Thomas Steinacker, Photo @ MANTRA productions
- First day: October 7, 2021
- Value: 155 cents
- Printing: Multi-color offset printing Giesecke & Devrient GmbH, Wertpapierdruckerei Leipzig plant
- Size: 55.00 x 30.00 mm
- Sheet margin design: yellow, green and blue tones of the motif, “OPTICAL DIFFERENCES”
By the way, I find the first day cancel very interesting, not because of the butterfly motif but because of the inscription. One might think that the inscription is peppered with printing errors. But I assume that this is to show that our brain is very well able to overlook such small errors, and still interpret the whole correctly. A successful stamp with real statement!