Paul Thek: Diver, A Retrospective Audio Guide Playlist
Exhibition co-curators Elisabeth Sussman and Lynn Zelevansky discuss a selection of works by the legendary American artist, Paul Thek. The audio guide includes commentary by artist Neil Jenney and literary scholar Ed Burns, who also reads excerpts from the artist’s extensive writings.
NARRATOR: By the mid-1970s, the dollar’s decline made living in Europe expensive. Thek returned home to New York, where he struggled, emotionally, artistically, and professionally. Curator Elisabeth Sussman discusses how drug use may have affected the artist.
ELISABETH SUSSMAN: I think there were times—he’s very honest in his journals about this—that he just went too far. I think it was hard to come back from those states and I think they did affect him permanently and that he wasn't in the best shape because of the kind of life he had led.
NARRATOR: Thek was also sick with Hepatitis and broke. He had to bag groceries and work as a janitor in a hospital to get by. He often seemed angry and paranoid and alienated many old friends. Ed Burns who has been reading from Thek’s writings throughout the tour was Thek’s friend during this time. Mr. Burns reflected recently in an interview on the artist’s frustration:
ED BURNS: He had had success in Europe, and when he came back to New York, it was as if he was an unknown artist. He was very difficult with dealers. And he was difficult with the art world establishment. I think it's that he had had extraordinary experiences in Europe, where he was free to create the kinds of environmental spaces that he wanted to. And when he came to New York, he found himself someone that nobody knew and he found himself in a world where art and the artist had become commodified.
NARRATOR: The next two galleries contain work from this time.
- 300 introduction to Paul Thek: Diver, A Retrospective
- 301 Andy Warhol, Screen Test: Paul Thek, 1964
- 302 Introduction to Paul Thek’s Meat Pieces
- 303 Paul Thek, Meat Piece with Warhol Brillo Box, 1965
- 304 Paul Thek, Untitled, 1965
- 305 Paul Thek, Untitled (Meat Piece with Flies), 1965
- 306 Paul Thek, Warrior’s Arm, 1967, and other cast body parts
- 307 Paul Thek, The Tomb, 1967
- 308 Introduction to Installations
- 309 a document made by Paul Thek and Edwin Klein (3 volumes), c. 1971
- 310 Paul Thek, Fishman in Excelsis Table, 1970–71
- 311 Paul Thek, Dwarf Parade Table, 1969
- 312 Paul Thek, A Procession in Honor of Aesthetic Progress: Objects to Theoretically Wear, Carry, Pull, or Wave, 1968
- 313 Paul Thek in Ponza
- 314 Paul Thek, Untitled (Diver), 1969
- 315 Paul Thek, Triptych, 1969
- 316 Paul Thek, Untitled (Dinosaurus), 1971
- 317 Introduction to Bojangles
- 318 Paul Thek, The Personal Effects of the Pied Piper, 1975-76
- 319 Paul Thek, Uncle Tom’s Cabin,1975, and The Tower of Babel,1976
- 320 Paul Thek, Notebooks, 1972–87
- 322 Introduction to Journals Post 1975, Paintings
- 323 Paul Thek’s Paintings
- 324 Paul Thek, Hurrah Vacuii!!, c. 1988
- 325 Paul Thek, Susan Lecturing on Neitzsche, 1987
- 326 Introduction to Last Show
- 327 Paul Thek, Tilted Ark II, 1985
- 328 Paul Thek, Untitled (Butterflies), 1988