“Your lovely postcard greatly pleased me. In the Still Life Exhibition at Commeter there are 3 works of mine. If you see them I’m eager to hear how you like them. Regards, Your EL Kirchner. Best regards, E Heckel”
It sounds little different than today´s messages, sent via smartphone during lunch, attached a photo of what just happened. Barely but only that the writer is Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, who sent a short note to the Hamburg collector Käthe Bleichröder, written on postcard. The front shows the motif the “Liegenden weiblichen Aktes mit Hund” (lying female nude with dog), drawn by Erich Heckel, Kirchner´s studio friend.
What is quickly send as a photo over the phone today, the young artists of the “Brücke” generation used postcards for their drawings, sharing ideas of current works, or to maintain contact between friends and collectors. Those – from today´s perspective – little gems, not only give account to the artistic work but also give valuable insight into the social environment of the artist. Two of these postcards are addressed to the former director of the Düsseldorf Academy Walter Kaesbach, a well know patron of the Expressionists and being one of the most progressive museologists at that time.
These and further 37 artist postcards, written and sent from important artists of the 20th and 21st century, are on view in the exhibition “Schöne Grüße. Künstlerpostkarten” opening on the 15th February 2018 at Galerie Ludorff.
The show underlines the significance artist postcards took as a medium of communication throughout the 20th century. It reflects the progress of Modern Art, ranging from Jugendstil designs, Expressionism to conceptual works from the postwar-era.
The youthful Expressionists, pioneering this new genre, depicted their complete topics on these small formats: Nudes, portraits, landscapes, the city´s-entertainment such as burlesques, circus or theater. While some of these postcards served as a sketch of a known painting, others might have caused the postman to blush upon the delivery of a drawn female nude. Most importantly, postcards accelerated communication in the early 20th century, as the mail was collected several times a day and its postal charge was half the prize of a letter.
Artists in the 1960s and onwards used this mass medium as a way to merge art with daily life, reaching out to a broader audience or to distribute their conceptual ideas, just like Joseph Beuys, who used his most significant material felt for multiples.
Reflecting on absence and presence of information in relation to the body, the Japanese artist On Kawara used postcards for his “I GOT UP” series, by documenting his time of getting up, he confirms his daily existence. Once written down, the information however already belongs to the past.
The exhibition “Schöne Grüße. Artist postcards” is on view from the 16th February onwards at Galerie Ludorff und includes 37 works by Joseph Beuys, Sam Francis, Klaus Fußmann, Erich Heckel, Horst Janssen, Hermann Hesse, On Kawara, Imi Knoebel, Oskar Kokoschka, Otto Mueller, Ernst Wilhelm Nay, Dieter Roth, Oskar Schlemmer and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff.