Signs on the Wind: Lenore Tawney Postcard Collages, Essay by Holland Cotter  2002

This book was mentioned in something I recently read, though for the life of me I can’t recall where! It’s a small monograph about the postcard collages created by Lenore Tawney and  features three of my favorite things:  an essay by the inimitable art critic of the New York Times, Holland Cotter; an introduction to an artist who expresses herself through the medium of postcards actually sent to friends; and an artist in the Anni Albers tradition of textile work at the Bauhaus.

Lenore Tawney was born in Ohio in 1907 and was educated at the Chicago Institute of Design, a Bauhaus offshoot created by Moholy-Nagy and Archipenko after the original was closed by the Nazis.  She was a fixture in the NY art scene of the 1950’s and ’60s where she hung with Agnes Martin, Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Indiana, and Barnett Newman, but her medium was textiles and while she revolutionized the scale and techniques for working with thread, her work was slow to be accepted by major museums.

This book explores her creativity in another medium—-collage which she applied to postcards and then sent them to a wide variety of friends from all over the world–postmarks from Switzerland and Japan alternate with cards from Truro, New Jersey, and one of  my favorite places in the world, Monhegan Island, ME.  Using pictures of birds, saints, buildings, and other objects cut out from magazines, art history books, and encyclopedias, she incorporated text, images, and design in these charming collages.  The stamps on each one tell another fascinating story as she sought out images of famous people (Einstein, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Sinclair Lewis) to send her messages on their way.

If you haven’t had a chance to read my essay on my now five year old practice of sending a postcard each day with my Day of Life and what time I Got Up to a friend, you can read about the impetus for this OCD and delightful daily activity at

In the meantime, if you can find this book in a used bookstore, grab it, sit back, and enjoy the fabulously creative mind and hands of Lenore Tawney.