John Stezaker, Pair IV, 2007
I love postcards. Love sending them. Collecting them. Perusing eBay and the hyper-organized boxes of old cards at bookshops and antique stores. They are snapshots of our culture—what we value, what we are doing and thinking, and what we find most iconic, beautiful, and worthy of sharing.
Over the past year I’ve been using the simple postcard as an artistic material, curious about where this limitation of medium might lead me. (More on the postcard work in an upcoming post.) While other artists like On Kahara, Tacita Dean, and Zoe Leonard have blazed the trail for such work, the boundaries have not been pushed as far as they can be. This sense of possibility excites me.
As my own creative pursuits increasingly turn to appropriation, remixing, and creating new artworks out of found materials, I’ve enjoyed exploring the work of other artists similarly obsessed with secondhand imagery, postcards in particular. My friend, artist Jonathan Gitelson, recommended I check out The Age of Collage: Contemporary Collage in Modern Art. This exceptional book is a treasure trove and should be required reading for anyone working with the medium. (Volume two has just been released, and is also worth acquiring.)
There are a lot of compelling images to take in when thumbing through The Age of Collage, but the work of one artist in particular leapt off the page and grabbed me by the throat: John Stezaker.
Now here is an artist who knows how to turn a simple postcard into a sublime experience (no easy feat).
John Stezaker, Mask XLVI, 2007 (Photo via stills.org)
John Stezaker, Visitation, 2006, 44 x 61 cm (Photo via saatchigallery.com)