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Untitled ("Baseball-Photographer" Trading Cards), 1975

Mike Mandel

American, 1950-
134 Photo-offset images with identifying text, plus 1 checklist card, on individual card stock (recto and verso)
3-1/2 x 2-1/2 in. each (8.9 x 6.4 cm)
Norton Simon Museum, Gift of Calvin and Wendy Stewart
PH.2005.04.001-135

Not on view

After a long struggle to gain acceptance as a fine art, photography transformed rapidly into a collectible art form by the mid-1970s. As a freshly minted student from the San Francisco Art Institute, Mike Mandel recognized the irony of the medium’s meteoric rise and the changes that were taking place in the photography community. He embarked on a project to create Baseball-Photographer Trading Cards as a conceptual satire on baseball card collecting. Mandel traveled 14,000 miles around the United States, with uniforms and equipment in his car, to produce a series of 134 portraits of photographers (and other photo personalities) in baseball uniforms. The reverse side of each card is filled with the artist’s personal data: weight and height as well as favorite camera, film, or pithy remark. He made 3,000 cards of each portrait and then packaged them in groups of ten, with bubble gum. The cards were sold at museum shops and galleries around the country. Following tradition, one could only collect the full set by trading them.


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