Work - The Popular Exhibition (Anti-Exhibition)
30.11 – 15.12.1963, Galeria Krzysztofory, Kraków.
One of the first Environments in Poland, then called an anti-exhibition. The Popular Exhibition was a negation of the concept of supremacy of a finished and complete work of art. In a space filled with stacks of newspapers, calendars, received and unsent letters, unfinished drawings, rags, randomly placed trunks, step stools, boards and beer casks, the artist placed couple of hundreds of his drawings from years 1945-1963. They were placed, chronologically, on laundry lines. It created an atmosphere of a workshop somewhere in an attic. In the Krzysztofory Cellar there was not a single painting – an object that would be considered a finished work of art. Kantor set out to showcase the process of creation of art. He ennobled in this way the partway stages of creation – unfinished drafts and drawings which are thrown away after the painting is finished. Kantor likened the work of art to other ready made objects. Placing them between other everyday objects made them lose their special status. What counted was not the work of art – the end of artists’ work – but the process of creation. From theatrical objects the exhibition contained: Wardrobe and the Trash Trolley (Country House, Informalist theatre, 1961), the Machine (The Madman and the Nun, Zero theatre, 1963), costumes from The Rhinoceros (Old Theatre, 1961) and the notes for the plays. Kantor prepared the exhibition’s catalogue, but it was not published. The Anti-Exhibition was a shock to the audience, causing an artistic scandal. Through this it realised the avant-garde goal of surprising the audience, depriving them of the safe position of a person passively contemplating aesthetic experiences.