The Visiting Cards of Notable Artists

calling card of Piet Mondrian

calling card of Edouard Manet

calling card of Pierre Auguste Renoir

F. C. Schang collected the calling cards of prominent artists and musicians and in the late 20th century, donated a collection of them to Met Museum.

Calling cards derived from a custom, originating in England, in which messages were inscribed on the backs of playing cards. Cards made for the express purpose of sharing hand-written messages were manufactured beginning in the eighteenth century; by the early-nineteenth century, calling cards had become a popular means for sending well wishes, holiday greetings, condolences, and messages of courtship.

The cards include those of Klee, Renoir, Pissarro, Rodin, Monet, Mondrian, Braque, Toulouse-Lautrec, Manet, and many more. I think my favorites are Piet Mondrian’s (above) and Joan Miró’s, the former because it’s very much in keeping with the artist’s style and the latter because it isn’t:

calling card of Joan Miro

Schang published a book of these cards in 1983 — it’s long out of print but you can get one here (signed, no less). He also collected the calling cards of generally famous people, singers, pianists, and violinists. (via greg allen)

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