A Show of Mail Art

Stephanie Land, an incredible artist, photographer and printmaker, hand-makes stationery and writes the most wonderful and timely notes. Her mail is regarded amongst its recipients as true art. I thought of her this weekend as I visited Espace Culturel Louis Vuitton’s Correspondances exhibit on the Champs-Élysées.

First thing you need to know: to get up to the 7th floor, where the gallery space is, you have to ride in a tiny pitch-black elevator. The elevator operator explained to me that it is a work of art on its own… just thought I should warn you first. Secondly, the space once you get there is beautiful, an entire panorama of Paris at your fingertips. Filling this space is tons of art related to the experience of sending and receiving mail, one which forces you to think about the interactivity of art, the connectivity of the world, and communication between friends, lovers, contemporaries and complete strangers.

Take, for example, the exhibit’s anchor display, by Ray Johnson. In the 1950s, Johnson pioneered the “Mail Art” movement by sending thousands and thousands of his collages to friends and colleagues, and sometimes even strangers, frequently asking the recipient to “add on” and send to another artist, or back to him. These works are collected in a fascinating display of pop culture and artist interactivity, a snapshot of the late ’50s and early ’60s in which the works were created.

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