Statement from Joan K. Davidson, founder Artists’ Postcards:

The postcard is a letter to the world — from home, from abroad, from work, from school, from prison.

The postcard defies censorship, welcomes ideas, strikes a blow for free speech; the postcard is an act of love.

Artists’ Postcards packs a particular punch, bringing original works of art, for pennies, to people everywhere.

About Artists’ Postcards

In Memoriam
Joan Kaplan Davidson
May 26, 1927 - August 11, 2023

postcard that shows Abraham Lincoln, cuneiform and swimming pool from beginning of the 20th century

Michael Graves

page from old newspaper, year 1977, article about John Ashbery

New York Times

IT’S POSTCARD time. That whispering flip-flop that can be heard all over the city is the sound of postcards being delivered to house after half-empty house. They come from all over — Copenhagen, Patmos, Edinburgh, Kyoto, Cadiz, Vermont, and the Vineyard and they offer a double enjoyment. There is the image (compounded in many cases by a never-before-seen stamp). There is also the fact that someone thought it worthwhile to make a signal. Those two enjoyments add up to an agreeable moment in the day. But a seasonal one. People don’t normally send one another picture postcards when they are in the same city. The words "postcard" and "vacation" have been interchangeable ever since the year 1874 when it was decided at an international Postal Congress in Berne, Switzerland, that postcards, might be sent from one country to another at a standard rate of one (English) penny. Thereafter there was no town so dingy that it did not put a good face on itself, and cards were sent by the millions. The congress of 1874 made seasonal cards persons of us all.

And now, if Joan Davidson has her way, we shall be cards persons all the year round. When Mrs. Davidson was chairman of the State Council for the Arts she established herself as one of the most pertinacious people who ever stood on two feet; and for some months now her energies have gone into the promotion of a new kind of postcard." What we want to produce on a nonprofit basis,“ she said, "is something that will be an original work of art and yet cost all of 25 cents. They will be original designs made expressly for use on postcards and available in that form only. It's a way of getting real art into places where real art has never been before." The artists who have shown interest include Robert Motherwell, Saul Steinberg, Jim Dine, and David Hockney. We also have a poet, John Ashbery, a novelist, Donald Barthelme, a composer, John Cage, and a professor of physics, so I don't think it will be a routine operation.“ It's true, of course, that the appeal of the postcard is just about universal.

When Richard Carline organized a pioneer exhibition of old postcards in London in 1945, George Bernard Shaw and. E. M. Forster were among those who came to see it, and when the 36 original designs for Mrs. Davidson's first batch go on view at the DrawingsCenter, 137 Greene Street, on Nov. 19 there may well be a decorous scramble to buy them. The show will later tour the country under the aegis of the Smithsonian Institution.

Cards persons can learn more of this venture from Niland Mortimer at the Publishing Center for Cultural Resources, 27 West 53d Street, New York 10019.