Walker Evans and the Picture Postcard

Accompanying his exhibition at the Met--also filled with his collections of bottle caps, beer tabs, driftwood, and road signs--comes a volume of Walker Evans's most cherished postcards, a serious art form to him.

Book Digest I recently noted British bad-boy photographer Martin Parr’s slip-cased, two-volume Parrworld: Objects and Postcards, the latter volume of which displayed Parr’s 5,000-strong postcard collection. Now comes a (relatively) new Walker Evans book—Walker Evans and the Picture Postcard by Jeff Rosenheim (Steidl)—and an exhibition of Evans’s serious, lifelong postcard collection (which numbers over 9,000) at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Museum of Art through May 25.

As can be seen at the Met, Evans not only collected postcards, but also bottle caps, beer tabs, driftwood, and road signs. That he took seriously the postcard as an art form is an additionally significant aspect of the great photographer’s interest in what are commonly looked upon as social and cultural ephemera: He went so far as to print some of his own images in the postcard format for a 1936 assignment from the Museum of Modern Art.
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