Mater zu "Le Mépris" (Die Verachtung) 1963, Jean-Luc Godard

Mats Collection

Technically speaking, mats are best described as "analogue data carriers." These objects stand for a combination of photography, printmaking, film culture and advertising. Paper mats were once used as templates for the reproduction of text or images in cinema advertisements in daily newspapers.

The Austrian Film Museum holds a collection of about 3000 paper mats, the oldest of which date from the late 1940s, and the most recent from 1978. Their appearance is that of inconspicuous cardboard rectangles in a range of pastel colors, such as sky blue, stamped with a very delicate relief. The area intended to appear black when printed is "sunk" so as to retain ink. The "clear" area, meanwhile, stands above the rest of the block.

Two types of mats can be distinguished in the collection of the Austrian Film Museum: those carrying advertisements or announcements and those containing press images. The advertisements, which are rich in contrast and aesthetically pleasing, feature the local release title along with corresponding illustrations and production notes. On the other hand, mats intended for press images feature raster images of actors and actresses, which were used to reproduce publicity photographs in press reviews and articles. In many cases, a caption is already included on the mat.

Paper mats were one of the most important tools used by film promoters until the late 20th century. The Film Museum's collection can now be researched in its entirety via an online database.
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Paolo Caneppele, Film-Related Collection Manager
T +43 | 1 | 533 70 54 Ext 211