The Art/ Salvador Dali’s outrageous christmas cards

Sharing artistic masterpieces with average Americans was Hallmark’s noble mission back in the late 40’s. After WW2 the world had to rediscover the Art and it’s charms that can soothe a savage beast. “So, through the ‘unsophisticated art’ of greeting cards, the world’s greatest masters were shown to millions of people who might otherwise not have been exposed to them,” wrote the company founder Joyce Clyde Hall in his autobiography. Hallmark began reproducing the paintings and designs of contemporary artists on its Christmas cards in the late 1940s, an initiative that was led by Hall himslef. The art of Pablo Picasso, Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Vincent Van Gogh and Georgia O’Keeffe all took a turn on Hallmark’s Christmas cards and by 1959, Savlador Dali had agreed to join the fold. $15,000 in cash in advance, 10 greeting card designs, no royalties, no questions asked. The always eccentric artist submitted 10 images to Hallmark, mostly Surrealist renditions of the Christmas tree and the Holy Family. While the images are striking and beautiful, they show that Surrealism and Christmas cards is a rather weird duet. Of course, many images were unsettling.

A headless angel

a Christmas tree made of butterflies on a barren plane

a very dramatic camel

were there to prove that Surrealism is destined to shake up the conscious mind. Dali’s surrealist take on Christmas didn’t sell too well. Only two of the 10 designs were put into production. “The Nativity” and “Madonna and Child,” proved unfortunately a bit too avant garde for the average greeting card buyer. Hallmark stopped the production so nowadays, if you are one of the lucky few that received a Christmas card created by the ominous Salvador Dali, you hold a rare collectors’ item.

All images courtesy Hallmark Archives