Art Exhibition,  English

A Letter A Day Keeps The Divorce Lawyer At Bay?

Let’s forget about art for a second, and let’s talk about letters. Perhaps you might think it’s an odd subject choice, but bear with me here. Back in the days of yesteryear (yep, your grandparents’, great-grandparents’…perhaps even as recently as your parents’), how did people communicate when they weren’t directly next-door neighbours? Sure phones were around, and eventually even email. However, the letter was the method of communication which could truly enchant. There is a reason why it’s called a ‘love letter’ after all.

Malick Sidibé
Nuit de Nöel
Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, NY
The Menil Collection, Houston

As I write this in the lead-up to Valentine’s Day, the cynic inside me cannot help but think of the number of failed relationships that haunt us, both individually, and society as a whole. Of course, there are a number of factors why this could be the case now: easier to get divorced, more rushing into what used to be a lifelong commitment, less inclination to put effort into to make something work (it’s a fact that we are a lazier generation), etc.

But, imagine if all relationships were to start with letter-writing? A good few months of writing letters and I reckon that you will know each other far better than if you stuck to texting, thereby laying a stronger foundation for a relationship. When you sit down to write a letter, you’re giving a commitment of time. The act of putting pen to paper is not just about communicating a message, but it also requires thought. I would say that there is much more thought and precision put into writing a letter than, most certainly, a text, and, most probably, an email. Noah (aka Ryan Gosling) would agree with me I’m sure. It did win him Allie in the end! (Sorry for any spoilers non-Notebook people.)

Francesco Hayez
The Kiss, 1859
Oil on canvas, 90 x 112 cm
Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan

So, the next time you are stuck for something to do, why not sit down and write someone a letter? It doesn’t have to be to your special someone, but whoever you write a letter to, their day is guaranteed to be made. That’s just how letter-writing works.


The Menil Collection, Houston, is currently hosting an exhibit entitled The Progress of Love. An interesting and touching look at how love is displayed and how it changes and wanes across cultures, it is sure to be of interest to romantics and cynics alike. The exhibit will run until the 27th March, so if you are in the Houston area, be sure and visit! During your trip, ask yourself: would these relationships have dissolved as easily if the couple had started with letters? Perhaps… but then again, perhaps not! For a classical look at love, just in time for Valentine’s Day, check out Jp. A. Calosse’s work: Love.

-Fiona Torsch

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