Lynda Klich
Benjamin Weiss
Preface by Leonard A. Lauder
MFA Publications; distributed by ARTBOOK/D.A.P., Boston, 2012, English
Nonfiction, Graphic Design
8.5 x 9.5 inches, hardcover, 295 pages, 370 color
ISBN: 9780878467815
Suggested Retail Price: $45.00

In the decades around 1900, postcards were Twitter, email, Flickr, and Facebook, all wrapped into one. A postcard craze swept the world, and billions of cards were bought, mailed, and pasted into albums. Many famous artists turned to the new medium, but one of the great pleasures and enigmas of postcards is how some of the most beautiful and interesting examples were made by artists whose names we barely know. Drawing on the riches of the Leonard A. Lauder Postcard Collection (probably the finest and most comprehensive collection of its type), this gorgeous book traces the historical and cultural themes—enthralling, exciting, and sometimes disturbing—of the modern age. The first general publication on the postcard as an artistic medium since the mid-1970s, The Postcard Age is organized thematically, with chapters devoted to urban life, the changing role of women, sports, celebrity, new technologies, the stylish collectors’ cards of Art Nouveau, and World War I. The result is at once a vivid picture of the concerns and pastimes of the turn of the century and a sampler from Lauder’s vast archives.

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Phil Patton

Leonard Lauder, like so many postcard collectors, fell in love in childhood with the distant times and places the cards evoke. But unlike most collectors, he had the wherewithal to assemble a great collection of them. In the process, he helped raise awareness of the cards above the dusty dingy hobbyist sales world. Today, we can see the cards as the Twitter or better Pinterest feed of their time and therefore an invaluable inexpensive time capsule of the world of the early 20th century.

The notes on the back of the cards are revealing, too: many are mundane appointment reminders or greetings—the e-mail of great cities with twice- or thrice-daily mail delivery in the years before universal telephony.

Leonard Lauder donated a selection of his cards, a group produced by the Wiener Werkstätte, to his brother Ronald Lauder’s Neue Galerie in New York, devoted to Germanic art and design. The Leonard A. Lauder Postcard Collection is likely the world’s best, and samples architecture, art, commerce, and the incidental surrealism of the medium.

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