On December 5, South African leader Nelson Mandela died at the age of 95. Of the countless moving tributes delivered to the Nobel Peace Prize winner, perhaps none was more vivid than the New Yorker’s. The magazine’s new cover features a portrait of a young Mandela with his right fist raised high in the air. Artist Kadir Nelson, whose work has appeared on several U.S. Postal Service stamps, created the oil painting.
“From looking at the photos of the time, I could see that the energy around him was very strong and that his peers were very much with and behind him,” Nelson told the magazine. “He was clearly a leader. I wanted to make a simple and bold statement about Mandela and his life as a freedom fighter. The raised fist and the simple, stark palette reminded me of posters and anti-apartheid imagery of the nineteen-eighties. This painting is a tribute to the struggle for freedom from all forms of discrimination, and Nelson’s very prominent role as a leader in the anti-apartheid movement.”
Over the years, we’ve had the pleasure of working with Kadir on multiple projects for USPS. His work has appeared on the 2009 Anna Julia Cooper and Richard Wright stamps, the 2010 Negro Leagues Baseball stamps, the 2012 Major League Baseball All-Stars stamps, and most recently, this year’s Althea Gibson stamp.
He’s also created album cover art for Drake and Michael Jackson, and recently wrote and illustrated a children’s book about Mandela. The New Yorker cover is another incredible creation. We congratulate Kadir on the achievement!