The World Exists To Be Put on a Postcard: Artists’ Postcards from 1960 to Now

Thames & Hudson. Apr. 2019. 160p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780500480434. pap. $29.95. FINE ARTS
More scholarly than the playful medium might imply, this volume offers a comprehensive, knowledgeable overview of the postcard format and its place in the late 20th and early 21st century American and European art sphere. London-based antiques expert, deltiologist (postcard collector), and writer Cooper knows his subject and takes it seriously. The cards, by artists both well known (Andy Warhol, Sol Lewitt) and obscure, range from sophisticated and transgressive to enigmatic and silly, but all are treated as legitimate, if ephemeral, works of art. Cooper groups them into rough categories—exhibition invitations, political postcards, altered cards, portraits, sets, etc.—with short essays and descriptions that place both work and artists within the context of art movements and collectives, collaborators, influences, galleries, printers, dealers, and shows, in impressive detail. The appealing artwork, on matte stock with an appropriate lack of pretension, gives this intentionally disposable early form of social media its proper art-historical due.
VERDICT A solid addition to any library’s contemporary art collection. The combination of engaging images and detailed art history will hold value for students, professionals, or casual readers.

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