Art For The Holidays: Treasured Christmas Cards By Artists

Who wouldn’t love to receive a Christmas card from a relative, neighbor, or business associate during the holidays? Whether handmade or store-bought, a Christmas card makes the recipient feel appreciated; it also functions as a small work of art to be displayed and cherished. And if the card is made by an artist, it will very likely be treasured for years to come. Here is a small collection of unique and unusual Christmas cards handmade by celebrated artists for their friends and colleagues. Many of these personal creations have been exhibited in galleries and museums like the fine works of art they are.  

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Eugene Bennett (1921-2010) was an American artist known for his florals and landscapes in oils and watercolor. In this Christmas card he made for artists Ethel Spears and Kathleen Blackshear, Bennett created a collage featuring overlapping red, green, and grey rectangles. The result is a festive work of abstract art fit to hang in a museum.

Image: Smithsonian Institution

Jacques Lipchitz (1891-1973) was one of the key figures of Cubist sculpture from 1914 to the 1960s. Born in Lithuania, he moved to Paris in the 1920s to study at the École des Beaux-Arts and the Academie Julian before fleeing to New York in the 1940s to escape the Nazis. This Christmas card he painted in 1947 also bears the name of his wife Berthe.

Image: Estate of Jacques Lipchitz 

Max Weber (1881-1961) was an American painter considered to be one of the most significant early American cubists who, in 1909, helped to introduce Cubism to America. This austere 1950 handmade card depicting an unknown face includes Weber’s simple handwritten message.

Image: Estate of Monroe Wheeler

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Kay Sage (1898-1963) was an American Surrealist artist and poet mostly recognized for her works which contain themes of an architectural nature. Although she is known chiefly as a visual artist, Sage also wrote five volumes of poetry, four plays, and an unpublished autobiography. This witty Christmas card she sent to modern art patron Eleanor Howland Bunce in the late 1950s is unique in its simplicity.

Image: Smithsonian Institution

Elsa Schmid (1897-1970) was a German/American artist known for her abstract paintings, sculpture, and mosaics. In this modernist 1959 Christmas card she made for Dorothy Miller, the celebrated art curator and one of the most influential people in American art for more than half of the 20th century, Schmid simply adhered a dramatic black-and-white photograph to paper.

mage: Smithsonian Institution

Prolific Romanian/American illustrator Saul Steinberg (1914-1999) had a long, multifaceted career that encompassed works in many media: magazine publications, advertising art, textiles, photoworks, stage sets, murals, and gallery art. Although he is best known for his work for The New Yorker magazine, Steinberg has had more than 80 one-artist shows in galleries and museums throughout the world. Steinberg doodled this whimsical card for art curator Dorothy Miller in 1945.

Image: Smithsonian Institution

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