Do you send out a handmade holiday card this year? It’s a lot for an artist to keep up with, hand making each gift and greeting. Printmakers seem well suited for this time of year. Painters, not so much. Sending an original work of art to everyone on my list seems impossible, but an inability to keep up with individual greetings is precisely why the Christmas card was invented! The first Christmas card was sent in 1843, by socialite Henry Cole in Victorian England. Simply put, Cole had too many friends and was unable to keep up with his correspondence. This was terribly awfully rude in Victorian England, so Cole approached an artist friend, J.C. Horsley, and asked him to create an illustration: a triptych showing a family at a table, with images of people helping the poor. Cole had a thousand copies printed, with “A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year To You” printed inside, and a “To:_______” on the front so he could personalize it quickly. Thus we had the first Christmas card, as personal as a JibJab. “Appreciation of the quality and the artistry of the cards grew in the late 1800s, spurred in part by competitions organized by card publishers, with cash prizes offered for the best designs. People soon collected Christmas cards like they would butterflies or coins, and the new crop each season were reviewed in newspapers, like books or films today.” – Smithsonian For this post I’ve collected a variety of holiday cards from artists. Some are exquisitely designed, others scrawled and smudged; an inspiration for me to lower the bar and make something, anything. Done is good, as they say. But naps are good too, and they seem to be winning more of my attention lately. Frederick Hammersley’s screen printed design of the word “Joy” made out of Santa heads wearing long stocking caps.Partial fold creates two different images when folded or unfolded. 195-? Edward BawdenBruce McLean, 1984Fuzzy Snowman, Gary Hume, 2000Hans FeibuschEnid Marx, 1952John Wells, Nollaig, 2 Variations, 1977Barnett Freedman, 1953Ben Nicholson, 1936John Craxton, 1941Emily Sutton, 2011Albert Irvin, 1997 Fletcher Chapman Benton created this holiday card with movable pieces of red, yellow, and blue transparency sheetsChicago artist Don Baum created this collage as a surrealist interpretation of religious imagery by putting a Byzantine-style Virgin and Child in a bird’s nestArtist Saul Steinberg sent this card to curator Dorothy Miller in 1945Elsa Schmid’s 1959 Christmas card to curator Dorothy MillerBob Stocksdale and Kay Sekimachi sent this hand-colored print in 1959Philip Guston sent this card to Dorothy MillerE. McKnight Kauffer study for card sent 1934Milton Avery’s holiday card to Fred and Adelaide Morris Gardner Claes Oldenburg’s card to Samuel Wagstaff, around 1965Pablo Cano, a Miami-based artist who creates marionettes, sent this holiday card to Miami art critic Helen L. Kohen in 1989Nickolas Muray, a Hungarian-born American photographer, took this image for a 1937 Christmas card that was never sent.Muray took two images for this unique holiday card design that was also never sent.Abril Lamarque, a Cuban-American artist, created this set of six nesting envelopes and small holiday card in 1930Philip Evergood, an American artist active during the Depression and World War II, sent this hand-painted watercolor as a family Christmas card to artist Ernest Schnakenberg in 1958.Dan Flavin, famous for creating sculptures with fluorescent lights, sent this Christmas card to artist Andrew Bucci in 1962 Julia Kepes, wife of Hungarian-born artist Gyorgy KepesPrentiss Taylor, who was involved in the Harlem Renaissance, sent this block-printed holiday card to painter and instructor Robert Franklin Gates in 1932Lithuanian-American sculptor William Zorach and his wife, Margeurite, sent this block print card to artist Alfred J. FruehAbstract painter Regina Bogat weaved this holiday card that she and her husband, painter Alfred Jansen, sent to art historian Katharine Kuh in 1975Julia Thecla, a Chicago-based painter, created this playful mixed media collage and sent it to Katharine Kuh as a holiday card in 1975Andrew Bucci, a Mississippi-based artist, sent this colored pencil and watercolor holiday card to artist Prentiss TaylorGeorge Zoretich, an artist and professor at Pennsylvania State, sent this watercolor to artist James Mullen in 1971Ernest Blumenschein, who was famous for his paintings of Native Americans and New Mexico, created this family Christmas card that was sent to artist Chester Beach Philip Reisman, a Polish-born American painter and printmaker, created this screen-printed card as the family’s holiday cardAd Reinhardt’s Christmas card depicts a portrait of himself as a sign painter, the way he started out. His first wife toils over a stove, and on the lower right his son Jeb is slaying GoliathRobert Indiana used his iconic LOVE image to create this 1964 holiday card that he sent to artist Dorothy Canning MillerYasuo Kuniyoshi, a Japanese-born American artist, sent this hand-colored print to American painter Reginald Marsh in 1932Helen Frankenthaler created this collage and sent it as a holiday card to artist Theodoros Stamos in 1960Stuart Davis, an American modernist painter, sent this holiday card to artist Ernest SchnakenbergPolish-American painter Max Weber created this holiday card with Hebrew lettering at the top and sent it from the Weber family to painter Abraham Walkowitz in December 1934Alfred Frueh, best known for his mid-century caricatures in The New Yorker, sent this hand-colored print to painter and lithographer Wood Gaylor Werner Drewes, a German-American painter and printmaker, created this pastel illustration for a holiday card in 1965.Alexander Calder (aka Sandy) borrowed imagery from his Cirque Calder, a wire-sculpture circus, to create this playful card in 1930.Frederick Hammersley used his keen sense of color and precisionist style to create this screen-printed Christmas card designSage, who was married to French Surrealist painter Yves Tanguy, sent this typescript card to Bunce as a Christmas and New Year’s 1959 card.Sage sent this creative card to Bunce in 1962Philip Guston created this uncharacteristically cheerful Christmas Card to painter and poet Elise AsherNoche Crist sent this screen-print to Prentiss Taylor in 1962 Robert Motherwell’s card to Joseph Cornell. (Maria was his first wife. Helen Frankenthaler was his third.) That’s it for cards! Did you get yours done? Here’s what you can do: pick your favorite card or artist from above, write a little note, and send it to all your art friends. Then go take a nap!