Ted Stamm

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Ted Stamm
Ted Stamm Photograph.jpg
Brooklyn, New York
New York, New York
Known forConceptual Art, Painting, Drawing, Photography, Site-specific art, Mail Art, Artist Books, Graffiti
AwardsJohn Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Fellowship in Painting (1983) and the National Endowment for the Arts, Fellowship in Painting (1981-82)

Ted Stamm (1944 – 1984) was one of the most multi-faceted conceptual and dedicated artists working in Soho in downtown Manhattan in the 1970s. In his studio Stamm developed and researched focused series of paintings, works on papers and studies titled; Woosters, Dodgers, Zephyr, Concorde, Chance, Cancel, among others. Stamm's practice extended beyond his studio, to areas including mail art, artists books, photography, site-specific installations and pre-graffiti street works documentation that Stamm titled Designators. Many of Stamm's inspirations derive from observing everyday objects, experiences and events, such as finding an abstract shape on the street or lines on a baseball field. Stamm's works are fully abstract, and it is unnecessary for the viewer to know the origins of what he or she is looking at in order to experience them the way the artist intended. Black is a consistent component of Stamm's work, as it was a color associated with rebellion, rigor and reduction. Stamm created a rich oeuvre in his short lifetime which became influential for artists coming of age in New York over the past thirty years.

Early life and career[edit]

Ted Stamm was born in Brooklyn in 1944. At age eleven, his family moved to Freeport, Long Island, where he spent the remainder of his youth. He enrolled in Hofstra University [1] in the mid-1960s, where he began by studying graphic design. He quickly moved into painting studying with artists Perle Fine and John Hopkins. He also studied printmaking with artist Richard Pugliese, who later introduced him to the Soho art world. Stamm moved to Soho permanently upon graduating from Hofstra University in 1968. Stamm lived and had a studio on the top floor of 101 Wooster Street in New York from 1972 until his death in 1984.


Between 1968 – 1972, Ted Stamm produced lyrical abstract paintings consisting of poured red, blue and pink paint on canvas. In the summer of 1972, he began to cover up these earlier works with grid-like patterns of black marks; referring to these as “Cancel” paintings.[2] Inspired by the late work of Ad Reinhardt, Stamm consistently used the color black in his paintings from this moment forward; associating black with rebellion, rigor and reduction.

One of the most consistent characteristics of Ted Stamm's mature work is his use of black. Experimenting constantly mixing pigments to achieve the ultimate Stamm black color. In 1973, Stamm started a new, conceptually based group of work titled “Chance” paintings. He developed a system where the spinning of a roulette wheel determined the format and layers of paint for each work. Often, friends would spin a roulette wheel, the resulting painting is named for them.

In 1974, Ted Stamm started working with shaped stretchers, introduced the element of line into his paintings and created a new iconic group of work that he continued to develop throughout his life.[3] The work consists of a rectangle with a shorter triangle attached to the left. They were titled “Woosters” because the shape derived from a form that Stamm had seen on Wooster Street.

In 1975, Ted Stamm, simultaneously with the “Woosters”, began the “Dodgers” group of work titled after the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team. The curved forms and right angles used in the work derives from the shape of a baseball field diamond. Stamm became increasingly engaged with the concept of speed and morphed the “Dodgers” form into a new group titled “C-Dodgers”. The “C” in the title refers to the supersonic aircraft The Concorde, Stamm would often travel to see it arrive and depart at John F. Kennedy International Airport, JFK in New York.

In 1979, Ted Stamm began the “Zephyrs” group inspired by the futuristic, stainless steel aerodynamic Zephyr train that set a speed record for travel between Denver and Chicago in 1934. Stamm's later paintings “ZCTs” and “CDDs” from early 1980s hybridized various elements from his earlier “Wooster” and “Dodger” works.

During his life, Ted Stamm was also engaged in creating highly experimental conceptual and collaborative projects. In the early 1970s SoHo was still filled with active warehouses and manufacturing near Ted Stamm's studio. He found a large group of tags on the street these were used as the foundation for a series of “Tag” drawings created in 1972 and 1973. The tags were attached to the paper and similarly to the “Cancel” paintings, partly covered with graphite. Later, Stamm included tags as an element in collaborative projects and experimental works on paper combined with paint, spray paint, marker and stamps. The “Tag” collaborations included the participation of visitors to his studio who were asked to make a mark of their choosing onto a found garment tag that was glued down onto a page in a sketchbook. Stamm would respond to this mark in a second sketchbook of the same design. Both pages were then stamped with the date and other collateral information to create a record of their exchange.

Starting in the mid-1970s, Ted Stamm also made proto-graffiti street tagging interventions, which he termed “Designators”. Using a small stencil of his “Dodger” shape, Stamm painted the shape in black on buildings and other locations in New York City that had personal significance. On subsequent visits, Stamm would alter and add marks to the original tags. All along recording each visit by photographing and dating the development of the tag interventions.

In one of his few written statements about his work, Stamm asserts “my work deals with an idealism which announces and supports the advancement of the Art & Language, specifically painting”. More than 30 years after his death, it is clear that Stamm's persona and character, his optimism about painting's enduring possibilities and future advancement and his expanded practice both in and out of the studio were of great significance to his artist contemporaries. His work also anticipated the conceptual strategies and material inquiries of subsequent generations of artists who came of age in NYC during the past three decades.


Throughout his life, Ted Stamm continued showing his work nationally and internationally. Stamm had his first one-man show at Artists Space, New York in 1975 at the age of 31. Later that year he had his first show in Europe at Galerie December in Düsseldorf, Germany. In 1977, Stamm was included by curator Manfred Schneckenburger in Documenta 6 in Kassel, Germany and by curator René Block in the exhibition SoHo and Downtown Manhattan held at the Akademie der Künste in Berlin. In the same year Stamm was included in the seminal Painting Show at MoMA PS1 in New York.

In 1981 Stamm had a solo exhibition at the Clocktower Gallery presenting work from 1972 to 1980 organized by Per Haubro Jensen.[4] The Clocktower Gallery in Tribeca was part of MoMA P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center under the umbrella of Institute for Art and Urban Resources. In 1986 the Hillwood Gallery at C.W. Post College mounted a retrospective exhibition of Stamm's work. The work has been included in numerous group shows at museums such as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York, NY), Brooklyn Museum (Brooklyn, NY), Denver Art Museum (Denver, CO), Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (Humlebæk, Denmark), Museum of Contemporary Art, MoCA (Los Angeles, CA), Albright-Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo, NY), Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum (Ridgefield, CT), Rose Art Museum (Waltham, MA), Contemporary Arts Center (Cincinnati, OH), Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale (Fort Lauderdale, FL), Oklahoma City Museum of Art (Oklahoma City, OK), Santa Barbara Museum of Art (Santa Barbara, CA), Grand Rapids Art Museum (Grand Rapids, MI), Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts (Montgomery, AL), Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (Kansas City, MO) and Academy of Arts, Berlin (Berlin, Germany).


Ted Stamm's work is included in numerous public collections: Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum (Ridgefield, CT), Brooklyn Museum (Link) (Brooklyn, NY)[5], Carnegie Museum of Art (Pittsburgh, PA), Fondation Louis Vuitton (Paris, France), The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York, NY), Hall Art Collection (Derneburg, Germany; Reading, Vermont), Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art MoCA (Los Angeles, CA), Museum of Modern Art MoMA (New York, NY), Phoenix Art Museum (Phoenix, AZ) and Art Gallery of Western Australia (Perth, Australia).


Ted Stamm received awards in Painting from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Fellowship in Fine Arts (1983) and the National Endowment for the Arts NEA, Fellowship in Painting (1981–1982).


  • Ted Stamm, DRM 1980, Karma New York, 2017, ISBN 978-1-942607-66-3
  • Ted Stamm: Marianne Boesky by Robert Pincus-Witten, Artforum, Summer 2013
  • Revisions: Another Alan Uglow and Ted Stamm’s Minimalisms review by Saul Ostrow, Art Experience New York City 2013
  • Book Re-Dact by Peter Frank, Willis Locker & Owens, January 1983, ISBN 093027900X
  • Ted Stamm Painting Advance 1990, essay by Tiffany Bell, C.W. Post College Catalog


  1. ^ "Ted Stamm Biography". Artnet.com. Retrieved 2013-01-16.
  2. ^ Press Release from Lisson Gallery, 2017 http://www.lissongallery.com/artists/ted-stamm
  3. ^ Abstraction with a Relaxed Air by David L. Shirey, New York Times, March 1981, http://tedstamm.com/press/Ted_Stamm_Press_1981_NYTimes.pdf
  4. ^ Painting Speed by Tiffany Bell, Art in America, November 1986 http://tedstamm.com/press/Ted_Stamm_Press_1986_AIA.pdf
  5. ^ "Contemporary Art: ZYR - 7". Brooklyn Museum. Retrieved 2013-01-16.

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