- 1975-1989 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
70 cm of textual records and graphic material
Name of creator
Michael Bidner (1944-1989) was an Ontario artist who worked in print and mixed media, perhaps best known for his works in xerography and mail art. Born in London, Ontario, Bidner graduated from the technical high school H.B. Beal Secondary and briefly attended the Ontario College of Art before dropping out to pursue his art independently. During his career, Bidner worked with various media, including silkscreening, collage, slides, photography, and video. Bidner used the name “Cloud” in some of his projects and often incorporated the shape of an upside down “Y” as a signature symbol. In the 1970s, Bidner produced or co-created a number of alternative art-based publications: Adz magazine (founder), Rag magazine (co-founder), and Rude magazine (co-founder/art director). In the mid-1970s, Xerox Canada Ltd. provided the McIntosh Gallery at the University of Western Ontario with one of their new colour copier machines to help promote its use. In the spring of 1976, Michael Bidner and artist Michael Hayden exhibited their copy art and led a number of public workshops. Later that year, Bidner and Hayden were part of the “Colour Xerography” group show at the Art Gallery of Ontario, which also included the work of
Jaan Poldaas, Flavio Belli, Barbara Astman, and Robert Arn.
Bidner was also interested in philately and mail art, coining the term “artistamp” to refer to his postage art. In 1984, he organized the first international exhibition of mail art, titled “Artistampex,” in London, Ontario. Networking and letter-writing with mail artists in Canada and abroad, Bidner began compiling a groundbreaking database of artists and artwork entitled “Standard Artistamp Catalogue and Handbook.” Unfortunately, his declining health prevented him from finishing the project. Following unsuccessful attempts to place his collection at a Canadian art institution, Bidner’s personal collection of original postage art was given to the Artpool Art Research Center in Budapest, Hungary in 1989. Michael Bidner
passed away of AIDS in 1989.
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer
Content and structure area
Scope and content
Series comprises of Artistamp correspondence and samples of mail art between Michael Bidner and other artists around the world. Compiled alphabetically by artist name, materials have been organized by Bidner into ten binders as well as loose paper files. These records were organized by Bidner as a file system for each mail-artist which included contact information, biographical and professional background, correspondence, and stamp art (original or photocopy versions). Files usually include a copy of a typed letter Bidner sent to each artist outlining his Artistamp catalogue project and call for submission. These materials also include published articles, newspaper clippings, postcards, flyers, and a small number of slides.
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling
Edward P. Taylor Library and Archives, Art Gallery of Ontario
System of arrangement
Certain ranges of alphabetical sections were not found among the records and are absent from the fonds
Conditions of access and use area
Conditions governing access
Open. Access to Special Collections is by appointment only. Please contact the reference desk for more information.
Conditions governing reproduction
Copyright is held by the Estate of Michael Bidner. Copyright belonging to other parties, such as that of photographs, may still rest with the creator of these items. It is the researcher’s responsibility to obtain permission to publish any part of the fonds.
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Script of material
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Allied materials area
Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
Related units of description
Related materials: See Biographical materials and Subject files series’ for further artistamp records.
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Description control area
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Level of detail
Dates of creation revision deletion
Originally prepared in 2015