At a time when art seems to be getting ever larger and less able to fit into private homes, there’s an exhibition of the opposite end of the spectrum, of postcards as art.

The new show at the British Museum looks at roughly 60 years of postcard sized artwork, which roughly covers the rise of postcards as holiday art to their relative death thanks to the smartphone.

While many first time holiday goers bought postcards to send well wishes/show off to friends with the inevitable wish you were here greeting, the medium started to be used by artists to subvert the commercial package holiday, and by political activists seeking to use the familiar size to send a message.

The display is of around 300 postcards, out of a collection of over 1,000 amassed by the writer and curator Jeremy Cooper, who recently donated them to the British Museum.

It’s a curious exhibition, being both of modern art, yet the small uniform size make the art both wide ranging, yet constrained by the package size, and is also for some, slightly nostalgic when the postcard was an important way of sending holiday messages.

The small size, at odds with the blown up images used for publicity, means you have to spend a bit more time peering through the glass to see the details, and as only one person can do that at a time, the display becomes a very personal space.

Today postcards as art are still produced, sometimes for anonymous sale at fundraisers, and at least they fit into the average home.

The exhibition, The World Exists To Be Put On A Postcard is free to visit and open until 4th August.


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