Fluxus East

Fluxus Networks in Central Eastern Europe

Tadeusz Kantor

1915, born in Wielopole Skrzynskie, Poland
1990, died in Cracow

Kantor studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow from 1933-1939. He was a director, painter, graphic artist and author, as well as actor in his own plays. During the occupation, he had already founded an underground experimental theatre in Cracow. After the Second World War, Kantor initially worked as a scenographer. In 1948, he was one of the organisers of the great exhibition of contemporary art in Cracow. In 1955, he founded the legendary theatre Cricot 2, and in 1957 he reactivated the Grupa Krakowska that had existed before the war. Kantor was involved in the foundation of the Galeria Foksal in Warsaw in 1965.

On 10th December 1965, in the café belonging to the Society of the Friends of Fine Art in Warsaw, Kantor organised Cricotage, which has since been regarded as the first happening in Poland (although the musical happening Non Stop by Bogusław Schaeffer had already taken place in 1964). This was followed in subsequent years by more happenings like Dividing Line (Galeria Krzysztofory, 1966) and the Panoramic Sea Happening (1967), the influence of which – even before it took place – extended far beyond Poland, and which attained an iconic status, especially as a result of its photographic documentation by Eustachy Kossakowski. This was followed in 1968 by the happening Letter (Galeria Foksal, Warsaw). Kantor’s happenings were included in the exhibition happening & fluxus (1970), curated by Harald Szeemann in the Kölnischer Kunstverein. Kantor was a guest at documenta 2 (1959), the Venice Biennial (1960), and documenta 6 (1977). He also undertook extended trips to Western Europe and the USA with his theatre Cricot 2.

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