Tadeusz Kantor was renowned as a man of the theatre. However, in the lights of the stage we tend to forget about his first passion – about painting. He was a versatile artist and it would be risky to try and divide his work into separate “disciplines”. Still, today, when all that has been left of his exceptional performances is memories and records – it is good to look carefully at his paintings, as they explain the successive stages of his artistic development. In those paintings Kantor sometimes reveals more of himself than on the stage. When still alive, he was once called “the most worldly of Polish artists and the most Polish of the worldly artists”. In the context of Polish art Kantor became an important symbol, an emblem of the twentieth century. The successive stages of his artistic biography provide excellent material for a student of the history of contemporary art with its discoveries and illusions, explorations and ambitions. [Czerni, Krystyna. Tadeusz Kantor. Przewodnik po twórczości artysty. Bydgoszcz: Biuro Wystaw Artystycznych in Bydgoszcz, Cricoteka, 2002, p. 4]
The main tendencies In the development of Tadeusz Kantor’s creative activity which are presented in this section reflect not only his artistic activity as a painter, but also – and perhaps first of all – his attitude towards his own paintings and towards art in general. The artist himself as if suggests here how to present his work in the field of fine arts. The text included in the section “Painting” was written by Kantor himself – it was prepared by him to be included in the first collection of his paintings. Tadeusz Kantor divided the development of his artistic work as a painter into 13 stages and wrote suitable texts for all of them. He also selected from a large number of his paintings 269 pictures which he found the most representative and significant. The collection was titled “Intimate Comments” and was published in two versions in foreign languages – originally in Italian: Kantor, Tadeusz. La mia opera, il mio viaggio. Commento intimo. Milan: Federico Motta Editore S.p.A., 1991; in the same year a French version was published: Kantor, Tadeusz. Ma création, mon voyage. Commentaries intimes. Paris: Éditions Plume, 1991. The collection was never published in its original version – in Polish. The text alone was printed in: Pleśniarowicz, Krzysztof (sel. and ed. by). Metamorfozy. Teksty o latach 1938-1974. [Metamorphosis. Texts about the years 1928 – 1974]. Kraków: Ośrodek Dokumentacji Sztuki Tadeusza Kantora Cricoteka, Księgarnia Akademicka, 2000.
Intimate Comments by Tadeusz Kantor are an unusual record. They give us insight into his creative activity as a painter, but they are also a source of comments on its origins and on the mechanisms underlying the evaluation of creative processes. If time allows, I would like to write my own history of art. The sources are irrelevant . . . It does not matter how the average art historian writes; it is not the influence, but the reason, that matters. [Czerni, Krystyna. Tadeusz Kantor. Przewodnik po twórczości artysty. Bydgoszcz: Biuro Wystaw Artystycznych in Bydgoszcz, Cricoteka, 2002, p. 5]
Translated by: Monika Markiewicz
Section prepared and material selected by: Małgorzata Paluch-Cybulska