Edition MAT debuted at the Galerie Edouard Loeb in Paris in the fall of 1959. This was the first in a series of traveling exhibitions mounted in cities across Europe through which Daniel Spoerri promoted and sold kinetic multiples, each issued in an edition of one hundred. Spoerri’s ambition to democratize the distribution of art was, as he explained, so that “those individuals who admire and have an interest in buying works of art but have been unable to until now finally have the opportunity.”
This initial collection included objects that could be transformed visually, through a change in the viewer’s position; manually, through the spectator’s direct intervention; and mechanically, through the use of a motor. Spoerri solicited works by several “old masters,” as he called them, including Josef Albers, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, and Victor Vasarely, alongside those of then relatively unknown artists, including Pol Bury, Dieter Roth, Jesús Rafael Soto, and Jean Tinguely. Each work was priced the same regardless of the artist’s status in an effort to circumvent the system of valuation established by the art market.
Display and promotion were central to Edition MAT, as the democratic ideals of widespread accessibility and dissemination were also tied to its financial success. For this new model of editioned art Spoerri devised equally novel exhibition strategies: he displayed multiple versions of the same object in different configurations to underscore their mutable nature; he produced an exhibition catalog that doubled as a mail-order catalog; and, alongside the multiplied artworks, he presented singular works by the participating artists to give a broader view of their approach to movement and transformation and to bolster the appeal of their experimental art. These strategies inform the display in each section of this exhibition.
Top: Jesús Rafael Soto (Venezuelan, 1923–2005), detail of Spirale (Spiral), 1955/1959. Screen printing on Plexiglas and painted plywood, 4/100, 19 11/16 x 19 11/16 x 9 13/16 in. (50 x 50 x 25 cm). Published by Edition MAT, Paris. Photo courtesy of Kern Collection, Großmaischeid, Germany. © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.
Installation photography by Joshua White / JWPictures.com