Paul Thek: Diver, A Retrospective

Solo en Inglès

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.

Installation view of Paul Thek’s The Procession/The Artist’s Co-op (Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 1969).

NARRATOR: Thek worked with a craftsman who designed decorative statuettes of animals and dwarves. From him, Thek picked up the dwarf imagery you see here and in paintings nearby.

Thek called this piece the Dwarf Parade Table. Like the Fishman, it was re-imagined for each installation, taking on different meanings and associations. Draped with bed linens, it evoked a funeral bier. Wine bottles on top sprouting clay mushrooms and fish suggested a ritual banquet. Tissues hanging beneath the table referred to tears.

Members of the artist’s co-op, the group that collaborated with Thek to realize his installations, each added imagery and ideas. The group itself changed and grew with every project. Ann Wilson, Edwin Klein, and Franz Deckwitz were among its core members. Elsewhere in this gallery, you can see a video of them working. Klein recalled the communal nature of their experience, writing:

The idea of the installations emerged from the beauty in the studio: the place where you lived, and where your friends came to visit, the place where everything happened. . . . We did everything together—not just working. We ate together, lived together, traveled together, made music. . . The installations demanded full involvement and mirrored our way of life.