< Speculators

Dane Show: Postcards That Are Unusual

Thomas Albright
San Francisco Chronicle
Monday, January 1, 1973

Travelers usually send their friends commercial picture postcards, and then bore them with snapshots when they get back home. A photographer named Bill Dane, however, has found a way to do both things at once, as witness his rack-full of homemade postcards on display at The Oakland Museum. 

To be sure, Dane's views of Paris, Amsterdam, Roma and other tourist meccas all carry United States postage stamps and most bear Berkeley postmarks, which deprives his work of real conceptual rigor. On the credit side, his pictures are rarely boring.

Occasionally, Dane photographs a conventional scene in a conventional manner, but for the most part his eye is for the subtly unusual, or for the utterly commonplace. Thus, a postcard from Pisa notes that, the Leaning Tower is off there to the left somewhere, but the picture shows a row of souvenir shops and a Kodak sign; there are ordinary views taken along the highways to Mendocino and Modesto.

On the backs of his cards, Dane writes little ironic commentaries or epigrams, like "photography de-fuses reality" and "art is meant to be manhandled." He likens his photography to real estate snapshots, family albums, and arbitrary "rectangles of apparent reality" caught by the "millions of people clicking away," I especially like the family album analogy, as Dane's postcards have an off-handedness and intimacy that gives them a very refreshing sense of personality.