“Let the Artists Die”
Where did the name of the performance come from?
During the vernissage at the Galerie de France in 1983, Kantor met Gerhard Schmidt (the owner of one of the most renowned galleries in Nuremberg), who convinced him to prepare an artistic project related to the 450th anniversary of the death of Wit Stwosz. Kantor did not approach the above idea enthusiastically, but he expressed his fascination with the nail, which probably pierced the cheeks of the author of the St. the Mary’s Basilica altar. The history of an outstanding artist, who got involved not only with Kraków, but, above all, with Nuremberg, for him was an example perfectly illustrating the thesis that artists are the victims of society.
The owner of the gallery, Catherine Thieck, joined in the conversation, quoting a certain exemplum, when, during the renovation of the tenement she decided to mount additional doors to increase the safety of works of art deposited in the gallery, she was forced to obtain the consent of all the co-tenants of the building. One of the shrews (quarrelsome women of easy virtue) present at the meeting, who did not share her enthusiasm, as well as the arguments of Catherine Thieck, expressing her indignation with an “irrational idea”, exclaimed: “Let the artists die!” Kantor took these words up, using them as the title of the performance, which, despite initial doubts, he agreed to realize.
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