The Art of Exchange
At the beginning of the 20th century, the ambition of American artists was to bring life back into art and art into life. In this context, almost all the isms of the time – Dadaism, futurism, surrealism, etc. – have used the postal system to send lightweight and small-scale works combining text, images, and various materials through collage. In the decades after the Second World War, this trend turned into a full-fledged art movement called MAIL ART.
The artists who practice this art of exchange sought to spread their work more widely – to encourage interaction, to develop a network – but also to multiply small creative gestures outside the authoritative realm of critics, the museums, or the market. In many ways, MAIL ART prefigured the Internet. For those who lived under political dictatorship, it was also a way to thwart censorship or perhaps to send a message in a bottle.
Clement Cheroux, Senior Curator
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Snap+Share, August, 2019