MULTIPLIED: EDITION MAT AND THE TRANSFORMABLE WORK OF ART, 1959–1965
February 7, 2020 - April 19, 2020
Multiplied: Edition MAT and the Transformable Work of Art, 1959–1965 examines the rise of multiples (three-dimensional objects issued in editions) and the concurrent surge of interest in kinetic art in the post–World War II era. The multiple emerged as an international phenomenon in the 1960s and 1970s, serving as both art object and vehicle for democratizing art through ready distribution. Keyed to an economic and cultural context of mass production, consumption, and disposability, the multiple delineated a strategic position for artists grappling with the shifting socioeconomic conditions of a rapidly expanding consumer culture in Western Europe and the United States.
This exhibition explores the pioneering role played by Edition MAT (multiplication d’art transformable), the first series of multiples to find broad participation and distribution in the postwar period. Including works by an international roster of both established and lesser known artists, this groundbreaking enterprise was an early articulation of the ensuing explosion of interest in the format of the multiple in the 1960s and beyond. The Swiss artist Daniel Spoerri (b. 1930) established Edition MAT in Paris in 1959 with hopes of broadening the notion of art and its role in society, producing domestically scaled, affordable multiples that encouraged viewer participation through touch and optical vibration. With a combined emphasis on movement and multiplication, Spoerri’s project offered to a wide audience accessible and interactive experiences rather than rarefied, static ones.
Multiplied brings together more than 100 works by an international and cross-generational network of artists associated with kinetic and Op art, Nouveau Réalisme, Nouvelle Tendance, Fluxus, Pop art, and Zero. Artists represented include Josef Albers, George Brecht, Marcel Duchamp, Julio Le Parc, Roy Lichtenstein, Heinz Mack, Dieter Roth, Jesús Rafael Soto, Jean Tinguely, and Victor Vasarely, among many others.
Drawing from public and private collections in Europe and the United States, Multiplied presents for the first time in the United States the entirety of all three collections of Edition MAT, produced between 1959 and 1965. As the first in-depth English language study of this groundbreaking project, Multiplied and its accompanying scholarly catalog analyze both the works produced and the dynamic structure of distribution, display, and international exchange of art it set in motion.
Multiplied is curated by Meredith Malone, associate curator. The exhibition will travel to the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art in Charlotte, North Carolina, where it will be on view May 22–September 13, 2020.
The catalog accompanying the exhibition features essays by Ágnes Berecz, Magdalena Holzhey, and Meredith Malone that examine Edition MAT within the social and cultural context of the late 1950s and early 1960s, conveying new insights into a range of experimental activities that engaged with movement, serial structures, and viewer participation. With extended entries on the participating artists, the publication offers a vital look at the international constellation of some of the most prominent kinetic practitioners working in the postwar era and their varied aesthetic agendas. The appendix material features interviews and writings of Daniel Spoerri and his collaborator, Karl Gerstner, many of which are translated into English for the first time. Richly illustrated with more than 100 images, the publication is designed by Purtill Family Business, Los Angeles, is copublished with Hirmer, and is nationally and internationally distributed by the University of Chicago Press and Hirmer.
Lead support for the exhibition was provided by the William T. Kemper Foundation. Additional generous support was provided by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Hortense Lewin Art Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, Emily and Teddy Greenspan, Elissa and Paul Cahn, Nancy and Ken Kranzberg, the David Woods Kemper Memorial Foundation, and members of the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum. Lead support for the exhibition catalog was provided by the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Foundation.