Art | Card Carrying Artists

More 'Old Nick' than Saint Nicholas: David Shrigley's 'Santa Eats Babies', The Guardian 2010
More ‘Old Nick’ than Saint Nicholas: David Shrigley’s ‘Santa Eats Babies’, The Guardian 2010

Contemporary Artists do Christmas in their typically provocative fashion

For most, the giving and receiving of Christmas cards is a marker for the true beginning of the season. The missives are predictable, ranging from a traditional ‘Merry Christmas’, to the more inclusive, religiously neutral ‘Season’s Greetings’. Cards were introduced to our Christmas’ in 1843 and on the surface they haven’t changed radically since their inception. Each year we see the same familiar faces. The snowman with his carrot nose, rosy children gathered around Christmas tree or piano, red breasted robins sprayed with tacky glitter and the forced jollity of the family photograph. However, as the following contributions demonstrate, Christmas card art is becoming progressively more subversive and secular, a vessel for conceptual as well as solely altruistic ambitions. Consider sending any of the following to friends and family this year, if ye dare.

Polly Morgan – The New Testament

Picture opening an envelope to this; a dead robin sprawled on top of a musty copy of The New testament. This card is starkly and simply divided into blocks of black and white and in the same way it represents a paring down of the essential parts of Christmas into two clear parts. Despite being a registered member of the Guild of Taxidermists Morgan’s tour de force lies in making her treated animals look more dead than ever.

David Shrigley – Santa Eats Babies

For Glasgow artist David Shrigley, Santa is more ‘Old Nick’ than Saint Nicholas. In this lively illustration he taps into the unsaid fear that the friendly old man with the child perched on his knee is harbouring a darker side beneath his jolly exterior. Delving into his other works of art reveals that this isn’t unique: Shrigley frequently explores the violent and the macabre in his deceptively playful animations.

Sarah Lucas – Cockdoodledoo

This card is typically Lucas. Brazenly sexual, flavoured with a liberal dose of candid crassness, the card features the traditional turkey getting screwed by a fluorescent rod of post-modernism. It is the least festive of these artist’s contributions: Lucas, like Shrigley, seems to be making a point, trying to get under the naive gloss that covers the season and challenge the acceptance that everybody is happy this time of year. The turkey certainly isn’t, that’s for sure.

You can find more contemporary Artist’s Christmas cards here.

Kelechi Anucha

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