PRINT December 2009

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

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the December 2009 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.