October 28, 2010 / 5:56 PM / 10 years ago

Vending machines sell miniature art in boxes

BERLIN (Reuters) - An artist who wanted to make art more accessible has installed vending machines across Germany offering unique art miniatures in small boxes.

Lars Kaiser, a 35-year-old artist from Potsdam, said he came up with the novel idea to give art lovers the chance to buy the inexpensive art samples from vending machines around the clock.

He has installed about 100 of the uniquely decorated art vending machines in public buildings, bars and on exterior walls throughout Germany. The refurbished vending machines once sold cigarettes, chewing gum or condoms in the 1960s and 1970s.

“We wanted to get art into places that don’t have anything to do with art so that it would become a part of everyday life,” Kaiser told Reuters.

The one-off sculptures, collages and paintings fit into small boxes which the machines sell. They have been created by about 140 professional artists. The vending machines are also pieces of art themselves in a wide array of colors and styles.

“The artists are very creative,” he said. “The boxes contain every kind of art you find in a larger format elsewhere.”

Kaiser said the machines did not allow customers to select work by particular artists so that they would be exposed to something new.

“We want it to be a surprise so you’re forced to experience the work of an artist you might not normally pick,” he said.

The boxes — which cost two euros ($2.78) in the Berlin area and three euros elsewhere — contain inserts giving details of the artist’s life, work and website address.

Kaiser said many customers write to the artists.

“We get good feedback, especially from people in the age range 20-30 who wouldn’t normally go to a gallery,” he said.

Kaiser said he did not make any money from the initiative.

“We could make profit if we charged four or five euros for the art but we don’t want to — we’re more interested in art and in making it accessible,” he said.

The machines are proving so popular that Kaiser installs two or three new machines every month and has plans to install his first machine in the Netherlands next month.

Reporting by Michelle Martin, editing by Paul Casciato

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