Twenty three years ago yesterday The National Gallery of Canada announced it had paid the most it had every paid for a work. For $1.76 million they bought Barnett Newman’s Voice of Fire. The postcard below is of the painting and demonstrates the painting’s vast size.
I love this postcard as it is such a great reminder of an artwork I love and allows me to talk here about the genre of art postcards.
Voice of Fire’s purchase price provoked what amounted to likely the largest national controversy on an artwork in the history of Canada. The painting still stirs up discussion as evidence by the many webpages on it, a Macleans and a Walrus article, and a book.
I was studying journalism in Ottawa shortly after the painting was purchased. For an assignment, I stood for a couple hours by the painting and observed (and eavesdropped) on people’s reactions. There was a lot of “my kid could do that” and “it’s not art” – but there were people who were awestruck by the painting’s intensity and scale.
Unlike snobby art elites, I think people asking the question “is this art” is always a legitimate question for all to ask.
So this begs the question: Are postcards art?
I’m not talking about postcard copies of famous pieces, but others that utilize graphic design, photography, and text. To me, they are art. And, like all artworks, some are better than others.
On the topic of postcards that depict famous works – they are typically sold by art galleries. I love collecting this type of postcard as they are beautiful and a great souvenir. But it always seems that art galleries (aside from the National Gallery) never have their most famous works on postcards! Why is this? Sometimes they are available in a much more expensive note-card, which is not comparable. Anyway, it is a huge peeve of mine.
I recently noticed on Canada Post’s website, that they have online tools and printing services to make your own postcards! So make your own artwork and send it to me! I’d REALLY, REALLY love it!