This week I had a meeting in London which meant I was able to pop into The British Museum to visit the free temporary exhibition: The World exists to be put on a postcard: artists’ postcards from 1960 to now. I was impressed and inspired by the pieces that I saw. A definition of this art form that accompanied the exhibition was “…originality of expression specifically in the postcard, a work of art in its own right, not the reprinted image of something else.” This means that reproductions of art onto postcards are excluded, as well as postcard size pieces of art that aren’t designed to be sent through the post.
As you can imagine there were one-off pieces as well as those that were mass produced, individual pieces and sets; examples included printing, letter press, rubber-stamps, manipulations and cut-outs. Some were political, some covered social issues, some were part of projects that took place over several years, and some were ephemeral invites to exhibitions and openings (that many recipients may have just discarded). I saw it as an art form that was related to artists’ books. A medium that was positioned opposite expensive works of art that are bought and possessed by rich collectors.
Some personal favourites from the exhibition include:
Eleanor Antin – 100 Boots by the Bivouac and 100 Boots Go East. Antin bought surplus Wellington boots and took them round California posing them in anthropomorphic positions, she created and mailed 51 postcards between 1971 and 1973.
On Kawara – I GOT UP. Kawara rubber stamped tourist postcards and sent them to two recipients every day for twelve years until his stamp was stolen in Sweden in 1979.
Guerilla Girls – The advantages of being a woman artist: Guerilla Girls are an anonymous collective of women artists. This image was also produced as a poster as part of a campaign targeting Museums, Galleries and others who they believed were actively complicit in excluding women and non-white artists from exhibitions and publications.
Endre Tót – One Dozen Rain Postcards. A set of 12 postcards of manipulated xerox pictures printed in purple, the rain was represented by dashes and zeros and included, ‘left rain/right rain’, ‘isolated rain’, ‘zero rain’, and ‘I am glad when I can type rain’ which was printed over an image of the smiling artist.
Jonathan Monk – Picture Post Card Posted from Post Box Pictured. When holding exhibitions the artist would photograph the closest post box, print a postcard and then sell it at the exhibition signed by himself. Buyers could then purchase it and send it to themselves by posting it in the postbox pictured.
Roland van den Berghe – New York, Four Museums – One Postcard. A set of 8 postcards. The artist made a postcard which he then placed in the sales racks of four museums and photographed, he also got a friend to attempt to purchase the postcard at one of the museums – this too was photographed, and these images were also turned into postcards.
All in all I found the exhibition to be a great inspiration, and I am now full of ideas for projects which may come to fruition in future #CreativeWednesdays. I would also love to hear from anyone who is creating postcard art.