Mail-Art and Money

"Mail-Art and Money don't Mix" is what Lon Spiegelman wrote in the 80-ies. Are these views still shared by the current generation of mail-artists?

Members: 29
Latest Activity: Oct 21

Discussion Forum

Samples of Mail-Art for sale

Started by Ruud Janssen. Last reply by Ruud Janssen Apr 28, 2017. 4 Replies

When you discover that mail-art is being sold. Please leave a message here with a link.Continue

Cavellini for sale via Catawiki. What do you think?

Started by Heleen de Vaan. Last reply by Richard Canard Jan 30, 2017. 4 Replies

I came across…Continue

Tags: catawiki, Cavellini, mail art for profit?, money

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Comment by TIZIANA BARACCHI on December 9, 2014 at 1:50am

Comment by TIZIANA BARACCHI on December 9, 2014 at 1:50am

Comment by TIZIANA BARACCHI on December 9, 2014 at 12:34am

Comment by Heleen de Vaan on February 5, 2014 at 1:32am

I agree with Angie & Snooky, mail art costs me a lot of stamps and paper (I use special 300g/m2 water colour paper) and so.
And also to my opinion mail art and money don't mix (besides our own costs). As for me it's non-commercial, and it's the play and joy of sharing.

So the first idea when I read about selling of Ryosuke Cohen's Brain Cell Life Form was: 'This is wrong!'.
(I googled and see there just has been sold one, see here, and see below in case the link doesn't function anymore - and you still can buy one!..).

On the other hand, what should we do with our archives / mail art collection if we aren't here on earth anymore? I was thinking about that: when I (hopefully not earlier than in a far away future) won't exist anymore, what should my descendants do with all mail art I have collected during my life?
And with the scans of my outgoing mail art? (well, my own sent out mail art probably will disappear: the computer meanwhile will crash, and usb-sticks and sd cards won't be used anymore at that time :-)

Last year I received an envelope with 25 Brain Cell forms from Ryosuke (again arigato, mr Cohen!), and I immediately wrote a letter to the directors of the museum in my city (the Cobra museum). Accompanied by documentation (pictures of Brain Cell forms and other received mail art) and an extensive list of reasons why a mail art exhibition would be a good idea for this museum. Not only because mail art and the CoBrA art have some similarities (CoBra was a kind of anti-establishment art, around 1950, and lots of art exhibited there, reminds me of mail art and mail artists). But also because there are many Japanese people living in my city (so the >40 Brain Cell forms which meanwhile arrived in my place would fill a nice large wall in that museum). Furthermore, mail art workshops would be a good and inspiring addition to the usual workshops, and above all, I offered my efforts and mail art non-profit, really for free.

But the answer (from the secretary) was, that the agenda was too filled for the coming time (years). I was surprised.
Well, thinking now about what to do with my mail art collection when I'll be dead: in case the museum again has other priorities instead of wanting to receive / exhibit this mail art, I won't mind if my survivors would prefer to sell it, if they don't want to keep (and cherish!) it like I do.
What would you (let your survivors) do?

For now, I'm keeping - and cherishing - the archives :-)

Above catalogued as 'Fluxus art', and below as '20th Century Japanese (!) art'.


Comment by Mariana Serban on December 27, 2013 at 11:55am

It seems to be an interesting project !

Comment by Oh Boy on March 22, 2011 at 4:23pm

John Evans' art dealer specializes in collage works. He was approached by a artist to offer a subscription to art buyers. They would pay in advance and each month receive a work of art through the mail. He got heated responses from a few people that used Lon's words that "Mail art and money don't mix."

This type of art acquisition process is not what Lon was talking about.

Comment by Gik Juri on March 16, 2011 at 8:05am
to Theo. OK! No problem then.
Comment by Theo Nelson on March 16, 2011 at 4:52am
@Ruud: Actually I do send out a lot of painted envelopes. Never sold them. I do sell paintings. That is where the difference is.

I think the difference for me is entirely whether I treat the painting as mailart or I attempt to sell it. Again, once I put something into the maw of the Postal System with no regard for response, it is mailart. In fact, I just put 17 old paintings and 2 postcards into the mail today. Mailart all.

I love getting historical context from you all. An example - for whatever reason, someone sells a piece of art that I have sent them. I have no claim to that art other than copyright. I have no problem with that . It is the way of the world of visual art. I know some places are attempting to treat visual art along the ways of music. That is, overtime an artist’s piece is sold, a percentage goes to the artist. I agree totally with that. A Loooonnnggg time ago I sold paintings with a contract. It stated I retained 10% of the painting in perpetuity. I was told it was an unenforcible contract. As I wasn’t making a living with my art I didn’t pursue it. I still think visual artists should get a portion of recurring sales of their art. Fuck anyone who thinks otherwise.

Where was I? Juri - You are quite right. I regard the definition of mailart only as mail. Everything else is an additional piece that is not necessary. I totally agree that all the other bits and pieces make it more enjoyable and intellectually stimulating. Do you know, everyone I know from Russia and the former Soviet Union loves to argue and drink. I must be Russian.
Comment by Gik Juri on March 15, 2011 at 8:36pm
To Theo. Ok, no need to struggle for anything. You are viewing mail art only as MAIL, for me important movement properties. It's stupid to defend my position any more. Please read serious texts about mail art, Honoria dissertation, Lumb's Thesis, Held's texts and make impression basing not only on Your personal experience. It's cultural method, and it's right!
Comment by Ruud Janssen on March 15, 2011 at 8:02pm

Last year (April 2010) I met Pavel and also John Evans. Mail-Art as a concept has no money involved. Products and artifacts that are the result of the proces can be sold, no problem there. If a mail-art project involves money and is communicated in advance, that is also part of the concept. For me also no problem there. Remember Vittore Baroni's project where he would send people money to buy him a gift (including postage of sending) and he documented the sendings of that specific project.


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