Early 20th century surreal postcards


I came across a super exhibition of nuts early 20th century surreal postcards when I was in Helsinki, at the brilliant Finnish Museum of Photography.

Some of the cards below are from as early as 1905 so pre-dated the Surrealist era of the 1920’s – so interesting to see how people were receptive to oddball and obscure humour long before we imagine it was part of popular culture.

My favourites were the oldest ones that I thought were also the most psychedelic. This lemon hitching a wee ride on a train is also possibly my pinnacle postcard moment:



The curators did a great job to locate so many beautiful and odd examples from all over the world.  I liked these fishy April Fool’s ones

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Women and small animals metamorphosing in a chillaxed fashion also seemed to be a theme





A lot of unsettling babies too – see my earlier post about surreal ‘Baby Fishing’ postcards from 1905 too, weird infants were clearly popular back then.


The one below also reminded me of the work of prolific ‘outsider’ artist Henry Darger who and his winged children in the Story of the Vivian Girls




I also love this one which is meant to be a futuristic vision of Massachusetts – hope it’s coming soon in 2020


Some more whimsical scenes here



Also some glorious decadent looking cards from later on in the 1920’s, depicting all sorts of psychedelic romantic scenes and wild eyed glamorous women pondering  over their beausimg_3292 img_3293 img_3294 img_3302

This card features a British star Madge Lessing – these cards depicting stars of the time grew in popularity since it was before the age of fashion magazines.  Increasingly innovative techniques were used by artists to give the cards more appeal, these were early experimental fashion shoots really of the like we might see by people like Tim Walker today .  This one was part of a series portraying women of the time inside soap bubbles and an airbrush technique was used to achieve colour since this was before colour photography,


I think we can all probably think of an occasion where this card might have summed up the situation…


This exhibition was a while back now but I do recommend a look at the Finnish Museum of Photography if you’re nearby.  Similar cards to these can also be found at postcard fairs if you dig deep enough – my postcard dealer Dad has located me a few similar beauties.

Finnish Museum of Photography Tallberginkatu 1 C 85, 00180 Helsinki 

If you liked this you may also enjoy Surreal Christmas postcards from 1905 as well as this Czech pig riding new year postcard from 1915

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