For MOCA’s New Acquisitions Highlights this week, we feature a Chinese-themed postcard collection from our recently accessioned Sam Kohl Collection. A majority of the postcards measure 5.5” x 3.5”, which is slightly smaller than the more common 4”x 6” format.
All postcards in this collection share an overarching theme of depicting Chinese culture, people, and various sights and scenes from Chinese neighborhoods. It is difficult to pin down a date range for this set of postcards, but many of the postcards depict scenes from New York City’s Chinatown and Chinese restaurants from many decades past. Included with all these scenic cards, there is a selection with many dated and racist caricatures of Chinese men, showing men dressed in a changshan and having English dialogue with “broken” Chinese English or more commonly referred to as “Engrish” in modern pop culture. In between these are postcards that represent a fascination and appreciation of Chinese culture, albeit in often misunderstood ways.
Below are a sampling of the collection’s postcards, highlighting different art styles and print designs.