Welcome to the world of Robert Anton where you will explore extraordinary miniature mannequins, props and drawings from a little-known artist of 70’s New York, whose theatre spellbound and mesmerised his audiences. This exhibition marks the first time this incredible collection of Anton’s work has been seen in England, and only the second time in the UK.
A mesmerising and surrealist universe born out of the fantasies of a young man refusing any realities and taking refuge in the imaginary.Françoise Varenne, Le monde silencieux de Robert Anton
Le Figaro, 14 May 1975
An alchemist of the mundane. Through his theatre, Anton transformed the debris of New York City, that which was considered abject — be it object, human, or animal — into an alternative world beyond judgement and limits, with simultaneously devastating and marvellous outcomes.
Moving to New York from his Texas home in 1970 Anton quickly achieved cult status. His plays fascinated audiences in the US and Europe alike, yet his theatre remained one of the city’s best-kept secrets. He allowed a maximum of 18 people to see his plays and he vehemently refused any documentation of the performances. He called his figurines ‘actors’, meticulously sculpted heads, no larger than a thumb, with shockingly vivid features constantly changing character, gender, and identity in rituals of animism and alchemy, from beast to human to sculptural material and back.
The Edge plays host to the core of his theatre — over 40 ‘actors’, intriguing miniature props and a suite of exceptional drawings and sketches giving a further insight into this artist’s genuine imagination. Works that survived after Anton’s sudden tragic passing in 1984 in the impending AIDS crisis, leaving behind this oeuvre, so intense yet spanning just over a decade.
images: exhibition view, The Theatre of Robert Anton, Foksal Gallery Foundation, 2018; courtesy: Bette Stoler Archive, New York