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Polish Unofficial Art

Teatr śmierci [Theater of death].

Warsaw: Biblioteka Galerii Foksal PSP, 1975. Quarto (29.5 × 21 cm). Original printed staple-stitched wrappers; [8] pp. A small closed tear to rear wrapper, else very good.

First edition of this manifesto by a seminal figure of the Polish avant-garde and experimental theater, Tadeusz Kantor (1915–1990). A painter, set designer, theater director, conceptual artist and theoretician, who had an enormous influence on the development of Polish art of the second half of the twentieth century, Kantor has been called the Andy Warhol of Polish art. As a student in Kraków during the German occupation of Poland in WWII, Kantor created a small underground theater group that performed in private apartments. In 1955 Kantor was one of the key figures in the revival of the Kraków avant-garde group, organizing the experimental Cricot 2 Theater in the same year. Throughout the 1960s his work moved in the direction of performance art, as he organized performances in unusual locations, used inanimate objects as actors, while using actors as props. To document the shifts in his thinking about theater he produced a number of manifestos including The Zero Theater (1963), Theater Happening (1967) and The Impossible Theater (1973). In this late manifesto from the period of his greatest renown, Kantor “articulated his desire to abandon the theater grounded in physical reality for the theater of the mind that embraced an instant double of the Self, the Other, or the Unthought as the new subject constituted by the mental gaze of the Self” (See Michal Kobialka, A Journey Through Other Spaces, Essays and Manifestos, 1944–1990, p. 325). In practice the manifesto resulted in his work “The Dead Class” (1975), which was presented in the same year at Documenta in Kassel, subsequently winning numerous awards. The manifesto was published by Foksal Gallery in Warsaw (est. 1966), one of a handful of galleries that succeeded in showing work with avant-garde and conceptualist leanings throughout the Communist era.

As of October 2023, KVK and OCLC show only one copy outside of Poland, at Yale.

Book ID: 51871

Price: $350.00