Istvan Kantor

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Istvan Kantor (aka "Monty Cantsin", and "Amen!") (Hungarian: Kántor István; born August 27, 1949) is a Hungarian-born Canadian performance and video artist, industrial music and electropop singer, and one of the early members of Neoism.

In the 1970s, Kantor studied medicine, but also participated in the underground arts scene of communist Budapest that centered on the art historian László Beke. In 1976, at Art Club Budapest, he met the American prankster and Mail Artist David Zack, who was then touring through Europe with his mail-art collection. Zack encouraged Kantor to join him in America; Kantor emigrated via Paris to Montreal and, in 1978, lived one year with Zack and Blaster Al Ackerman in Portland, Oregon, encountering and working with artists from the Mail Art and industrial music scenes. He was one of a couple of persons to whom Zack suggested the idea of adopting the multiple identity Monty Cantsin, but only Kantor took this proposal seriously and adopted the Cantsin identity to the extent that it became chiefly associated with him.[citation needed] Returning to Montreal, he organized a Mail Art show, "The Brain in the Mail", and gathered together a group of people, many of them teenagers or in their early 20s, under the moniker of Neoism. Soon afterwards, Neoism expanded into an international subcultural network that collectively used the Monty Cantsin identity.

Kantor's own work in the late 1970s and early 1980s consisted most notably of the "Blood Campaign", an ongoing series of performances in which he takes his own blood and splashes it onto walls,[1] canvases or into the audience, often in combination with singing electropop songs that mix elements of new wave and industrial music, Hungarian folksongs and Neoist manifesto lyrics, combined with para-military clothing and punk hairstyles. Kantor expanded the theatrical, opera-like quality of his performances through the medium of video which gained him international recognition and awards as a video performance artist from the 1980s until today {fact}. At the same time, he continued to work within the Neoist network, co-organizing and participating in a series of Neoist festivals, which began as Apartment Festivals ("APTs") between 1980 and 1988 and were continued in 1997 and 2004. Just like his enemy Stewart Home, he has been controversial within Neoism for allegedly using the movement as a publicity vehicle for himself.

Past work involves noise installations and performances with electrically modified file cabinets. He also founded the "Machine Sex Action Group" which realizes theatrical cyber-futuristic body performances in an S/M style. The human body in its relation to machines, explored both in its apocalyptic and subversive potentials remains a major theme of his work.

His more controversial works involve vandalism and gore, painting large X's in his own blood on the walls of modern art museums including next to two Picasso paintings at the MOMA in 1988 and at the Jeff Koons retrospective at the Whitney Museum,[2] and in doing so he has been banned from some art galleries, a status he holds with pride. In 2004, he threw a vial of his own blood on a wall beside a sculpture of Michael Jackson by Paul McCarthy in the Hamburger Bahnhof contemporary art museum of Berlin. Although his later work has been dismissed as a simple vandalism by some parts of the media.[3] Curator Laura O’Reilly, commenting on Istvan Kantors writing "Monty Cantsin" on a piece by artist Nelson Saiers in The Hole Shop gallery in New york, said "There’s a fine line between pissing on someone else’s piece as a form self expression — if you’re going to call that art”.[4]

In March 2004 he was awarded the Canadian Governor General's Award in Visual and Media arts.

He is reported to have been supported until 2007 largely by public money and government grants.[5] He has been recently supporting himself via a series of yard sales.[6]


  1. ^ Lloyd, Ginny (1984). "The Storefront: A living art project". Lloyd Productions, San Francisco. 
  2. ^ "Canadian blood artist, Istvan Kantor, hits Jeff Koons exhibit". CBC News. 
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  5. ^ The state of the arts: living with ... - Google Books. Retrieved 2010-11-22. 
  6. ^ Goddard, Peter (2010-06-19). "Goddard: A portrait of the artist as provocateur". Retrieved 2010-11-22. 

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