Aug 09, 2023

Former Cigarette Vending Machines in Prague Now Dispense Art

It’s time modern culture got its place under the sun thanks to modern(ish) technology.

Did you know that these days you can purchase artworks from a vending machine? At least in certain European cities, such as Prague, Brno, Plzen, Paris and Tbilisi, you can.

The creative initiative, called Artmat, began in 2019 in Prague, and since then it has grown to include three art dispensers in different parts of the city.

The machines used for this purpose are older cigarette machines, which have been repurposed, but not too much. The purchased product still comes out in small boxes, reminiscent of cigarette packs or a playing cards deck.

Culture on the go
The project is the brainchild of art curators Josefina Frýbová and Petra Widžová. Their aim was to make art production, consumption and ownership more mainstream and commonplace. It also aims to introduce young artists to a wider audience and help them sell their works in a different kind of market.

In that sense, the vending machines are democratizing and accessible, the way galleries and art auctions weren’t meant to be.

The artworks as such are small and pocket-sized – convenient to not only have at home but also to take with you on the road if you so desire. The works include drawings, lithographs and even sculptures.

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Buyers can consult the contents of each art dispenser at the project’s website. Thus, they will know what kind of things they can expect to purchase from the automatons. The website catalogue is also essential in the sense that it shows when a new artist’s work is featured. Thus, the content of the machines is constantly being renewed. That creates loyalty and keeps art customers coming back for more.

And the prices? You can expect to fork out 50 Czech crowns (about 2 euros) for a box and 100 crowns (4 euros) for a sculpture. Now, that is what we call art for the people.

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