Painter Tadeusz Kantor

02 mars 1982
03m 57s
Ref. 00117


Summary :

Polish artist Tadeusz Kantor delivers his conception of Art, which excludes any relation of influence between Art and Politics.

Media type :
Broadcast date :
02 mars 1982
Source :
A2 (Collection: Non Diffuse )
Personnalité(s) :
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A painter, director and most certainly a man of Polish theatre, Tadeusz Kantor, born in 1915, vehemently pleaded for autonomy in art, free from any political or religious subordination, which was accused of blocking the essence of the man's work and imagination: "Art explains human condition, it's something much deeper than politics". This bias, confirmed in March 1982 - three months after the state of siege that general Wojcieh Jaruzelski imposed on Poland against the rising power of Lech Walesa's Solidarnosc syndicate - isn't really new to Kantor, and it finds its origins at the beginning of his artistic career.

Under Hitler's occupation, the artist founded his first independent theatre (Teatr Niezalezny) in Karkow, which was bound to stay underground in order to stay hidden from a regime that considered the modern trend to be a "degenerate art". Even though he stuck to his ideals, Kantor wasn't entirely protected from the jolts of the world: the shock of the war, deportation, and the rejection of nationalisms fed his creations, which were marked by the central theme of death, which he explored through an aesthetic willingness influenced by surrealism, informal art and "arte povera", and the 1970's post-modernism.

Very open to the world, Kantor travelled and became known in France in 1977 with his play The Dead Class, where he mixed wax figures along with actors dressed in black. During the 1980s, he produced plays rather than plastic art: Where Are the Snows of Yesteryear (1979), Wielopole-Wielopole (1980), Let the Artist Die! (1985), I Shall Never Return (1988), etc... Tadeusz Kantor died on 8 December 1990, after a rehearsal of his latest play: Today is My Birthday.

Claire Sécail


Monique Atlan
Painter, man of theatre, art theorist and poet, Polish artist Tadeusz Kantor wants to be everything at the same time, in the name of a conception that he's been defending during many years, total art, art that denies borders between different forms of artistic expression and that excludes any relation of influence between art and politics.
Tadeusz Kantor
The political situation doesn't condition art, absolutely. It might give a bonus: initiation. But naturally, there is the social platform, other than, for example, France. For us, in my opinion, it's that culture and, especially, art, these are the only weapons of our existence, the most effective ones, the most effective ones. And that's why, that's why I succeeded in doing the gallery exhibit in France. I succeeded in coming to France, in this situation, and having contact with the entire world. This is something we have to keep. Art never explains politics, it explains social life, condition... Art always explains human condition. It's something deeper than politics.
Monique Atlan
How do you, personally, live in Poland, currently?
Tadeusz Kantor
Me, personally. That's my business. It's my business because I do a lot of painting now. I did a lot of painting. I must say that since the 13th of December, I've done lots of paintings, always when a serious situation is happening. So I'm staying brave. I always paint. At the moment, our artists, this stage is functioning, for example, this stage is functioning even though the writers are abroad, they will be played in the theatres. If it's about painting, for example, in Cracow, I heard that there's a religious art exhibit. So for me that's a bit suspicious. But besides, when there's exhibits like that. You know, the situation - that's truely my opinion, very very serious - that social life has nothing to do with art. From time to time, it's just the opposite. You know, in art there are good situations and there are very bad situations. There are very bad situations in life, and now, that's where art is starting to develop.