MOMA acquires A Book About Death postcards

book about death postcard big
The recent show, A Book About Death, organized by Matthew Rose and exhibited at the Emily Harvey Foundation in NYC proved to be a great success! It was an open call for artists–many of my mail artist friends were involved, and the image above is the front of the postcard that I sent in for the show.

It was really a tribute to Ray Johnson (his original Book About Death), and a “global exploration of death”. Each artist contributed 500 postcards to the show, which created an “unbound Book About Death”. Visitors to the gallery were then able to select some or all of each postcards to create their own book about death.

The reason I claim that this show is a success is because MOMA (New York) just acquired a complete set of postcards from the show! So in a small way, I can say that I’ve been “collected” by MOMA, and that makes life pretty good! I think the artists involved in the show are excited about this–because even though mail art operates mostly outside traditional establishments, isn’t it true that we all want our artwork to be seen, we all have a voice we want heard, and isn’t it nice to be recognized a little?


10 thoughts on “MOMA acquires A Book About Death postcards

  1. That is wonderful news. I know a few artists who have participated in this project, me among them. Where would one find out more about this?
    Congratulations are in order, of course.

  2. Wow how great! I am so pleased to have been part of this project. Congratulations everyone.

    If there are any reviews of the show please let me know.

  3. Great news about MOMA and ABAD! Do we have conformation – not hearsay – on their acquiring a full set of the cards? I know we would all like to post the info on our sites.

    I emailed Matthew – waiting for a reply. I’m sure he will post the conformation asap on the ABAD archive site.

    Thanks for the heads up!

    Gary A. Bibb

  4. This is fabulous! A Book About Death has a Life of its own! Perhaps a Montréal re-exhibit is in order. benudemedia will try to make it happen.
    Until death do us part…

  5. Sarah,
    I also contributed to A Book About Death and was able to travel to NYC to attend the opening and a party at Bill Wilson’s the following night. I live in Virginia, in the Blue Ridge mountains. It was a wonderful journey to finally get to NY city and submerge myself in Art for a few days.

    Since my return home, I have tried to go through my complete set of postcards a little at a time. To take them as a whole is very overwhelming and I find much more when I look at two or three at a time. Today I pulled your postcard and was so impressed with both the art and the words written on the back. I was going to just write you a note of appreciation, letting you know how much I could relate to what you brought to this show. It touched me. And then SURPRISE, I see here on your blog that MOMA has acquired a complete set of postcards. That is so cool.

    I don’t know if it took you some time to decide if you would participate in the show, and what your process was like getting there…but I would be curious to know. If you have the time to dialog on this, I would like that. So until I hear from you again….I send my best.
    Jassy Lupa

  6. I’m friends with Matthew Rose on Facebook, and when he first posted the call for artists I immediately knew what image and story I could contribute, having such an intense personal experience with death. I didn’t even really think about it, I just made the postcards and sent them off. I was the first, I believe, to actually send in postcards, so I had no idea who else would be involved in the show and how big it would get. It was really great and exciting that so many people contributed to make the show. You are right–it is overwhelming and hard to look at all of them at once. Thanks for your thoughts.

  7. Sarah actually posted the first piece for the exhibition, so she’s THE early adopter, the one who broke the ice.

    I spoke with Milan Hughston, the director at the MoMA Library two or three times. Deven Marriner collected the works for MoMA. I recently e mailed with Hughston’s assistant and she wrote back that while they had the cards they were yet to be cataloged. I asked for documents and photographs once that was arranged so I could share them on the various sites set up for the exhibition and ongoing shows, and with others who would be interested. But yes, they own a set.

    As for press, oddly enough, a show that drew more than 1000 people to the opening, had about 2000 people watch live over the Internet, and generated 34,000 visits (to the main web site) has yet to inspire any writer to analyze this show. We are hoping the Queens Museum of Art exhibition, organized by Louise Weinberg, might make something happen so that a wider audience will take a look at the nearly 500 artists’ works, the many videos and download the posters. It will happen because exhibitions are being organized in Montreal, Mexico, Belgium and São Paulo, Brazil; the show in Los Angeles at OTIS, organized by Mara Thompson was very well received.

    See: for all updates, including a poster I made for the QMA, opening on November 1 (Sunday).

    Thanks for the buzz… Be well, all… MR

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