Artists’ postcards from the collection of Ulises Carrión, comprised of approximately 900 individual items in 108 small edition sets (most 50-500 copies) by Günter Brus, Stempelplaats, Nickolaus Urban, and Gabor Toth, among others, many signed by the artists and addressed to Carrión. 
Without so much as an envelope to keep their contents private, postcards may be our most casual yet intimate mode of personal correspondence. We send them to our friends and colleagues to boast of our visits to exotic locales, natural wonders and art museums. The gesture implies fondness and familiarity with the addressee—“wish you were here,” etc. And though they sometimes depict works of art, we seldom think of them as substantial works of art unto themselves.
However, these very same qualities of lightness and informality happened to make the postcard an ideal medium for a certain stripe of visual artist in the 1970s and 1980s. As the founder of Other Books and So (an artists’ bookstore in Amsterdam), Ulises Carrión championed self-publishing and correspondence art as alternatives to the market-driven, commodity-obsessed gallery system. For nearly two decades prior to his untimely death in 1989, Carrión exchanged self-published books, pamphlets, postcards and mail art with a like-minded constellation of artists and poets scattered across several continents, carefully preserving the material in his archives as it arrived in the post.
F.A. Bernett has recently acquired a significant collection of artists’ postcards from Carrion’s repository. Not only does it shed important new light on the collaborative context of his work, it also reminds us that the humble postcard served as an important “exhibition” venue and working medium for some of the late 20th-century’s most prominent avant-garde artists. From conceptual art multiples to curated sets of artist-designed cards, the collection presents a strikingly diverse cross section of movements and concerns from the time.
Carrión participated (or was directly implicated) in several of the correspondence projects, including this mail art set by Franz Immoos, and Jurgen Olbrich’s “Work for a Friend,” below.
And as one might expect, works by Ray Johnson—here the self-professed “Ding Dong Daddy of Mail Art”—appear among several sets.
The exchange of correspondence between mail artists functioned as a parallel universe for many participants, both known and unknown, allowing them to sidestep the concerns of gallery owners, critics and collectors, whom Carrión famously derided as a caste of professionally-minded “specialists.”
Keeping with the aesthetics of the larger movement, several of the postcard works are harshly critical of consumer culture.
Others—including a stunning group of cards relating to the Solidarity movement in Poland—address urgent political and social concerns.
Carrión and his circle understood how a mailed artwork could function as a talisman of its maker, even if he or she might not be able to complete the same journey in person. Prior to the era of our digital immanence via Facebook, Skype, Twitter and a host of other electronic avatars, this was a powerful magic indeed…
Please contact us for more information about the Carrión collection of artists’ postcards, including its price and availability.
FAB Item I.D. # 44030.