Perhaps today’s famous artists send their delightful doodles as email attachments (if you get one, won’t you forward it to us?). In years past, they went through the mail, and — luckily for us — many survived so we can peek at them decades or even 100 years later.
Written by typewriter and by hand, these are some of our favorite letters from the Letters of Note blog. If you enjoy them, follow the links at the bottom of this post to explore some other sources!
- Some letters are from famous artists, explaining their most famous works. (Grant Wood, 1941)
- At least one letter is to a famous artist, about his famous and apparently noisy parties (Andy Warhol, 1965)
- Many are genuine, helpful, and encouraging letters to fans (Keith Haring, 1987 and Austin Madison, 2011)
- This one explains why “art is useless” (Oscar Wilde, 1890)
- One is a humble response to a positive review (Vincent Van Gogh, 1890)
- And one is a document of a famous romance (Frida Kahlo, no date)
Be sure to check out the illustrated letters collection at the Archives of American Art! If you’re interested in mail as art, rather than just letters by famous artists, here is the University at Buffalo Mail Art Collection and the Mogens Otto Nielsen mail art archive.