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.


Paul Thek (1933–1988), Untitled (Diver), 1969. Synthetic polymer on newspaper, 26 1/8 x 36 1/4 in. (66.4 x 92.1 cm). Kolodny Family Collection © The Estate of George Paul Thek; courtesy of Alexander and Bonin, New York.


NARRATOR: In 1968, archaeologists in Italy discovered an ancient fresco depicting a lone athlete diving into the water, presumably toward the afterlife. Thek undoubtedly heard about the find. The next year he painted his own diver images. The figure seems to serve as a surrogate for the artist himself, alone, engaged in a solitary search for sensation and meaning. Curator Elisabeth Sussman:

ELISABETH SUSSMAN: For us these paintings of the diver seemed to signify Thek’s great abilities as an artist and to somehow convey this state of mind of intensity and contemplation and purity in a very honest and direct and beautiful and extremely simple way. It’s an image that really does speak to what Thek is, in many ways, about.