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.


Spread from Thek’s notebook #81, n.d. Watermill Center Collection; courtesy Alexander and Bonin, New York © The Estate of George Paul Thek; courtesy of Alexander and Bonin, New York

NARRATOR: Thek began keeping a daily journal in 1969, and when he died in 1988, close to one hundred of these notebooks were found among his possessions. They reveal an intelligent, exuberant mind—often plagued by frustration and self-doubt.

Visually, the journals are a jumble of texts, sketches, doodles, and highly finished drawings and watercolors. They also include long passages, copied word for word, from spiritual texts—a meditative exercise that speaks to Thek’s ongoing search for spiritual truth.

The notebooks also highlight Thek’s sense of humor. He loved wordplay, and he twists puns and clichés in every direction, to alter their meaning. Thek repeatedly reminds himself to maintain his sense of humor—in art and in life.