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Allen Ruppersberg

JIMMY STEWART AND THE PICTURE POSTCARD are both gone. Stewart is, of course, preserved on celluloid in It’s a Wonderful Life, and the postcard persists in a sort of half-life, circulating around dusty tourist areas nobody goes to anymore. But both are still essentially dead.

The postcard—that cheap, common image-object—came into existence around the turn of the century (there are said to have been seven hundred million sent in 1903 alone) and lasted another sixty-some years before it slowly began to disappear. Now those little pictures of everything you wanted to see are just another midrange collectible on the nostalgia circuit.

I expected to see postcards in a show titled “Walker Evans and the Picture Postcard,” curated at the Met by Jeff L. Rosenheim, but maybe not ones with quite the singular beauty I found there.

In her review of the show, New York Times critic Roberta Smith

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