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), Susan Lecturing on Neitzsche, 1987. Synthetic polymer on canvas board, 13 x 16 15/16 in. (33 x 43 cm). Watermill Center Collection © The Estate of George Paul Thek; courtesy of Alexander and Bonin, New York.

NARRATOR: "Susan Lecturing on Neitzsche" a child’s block letters scrawl across a pulsating yellow ground, the name Nietzsche is misspelled. Susan Sontag was one of the many friends Thek alienated after his return to New York. Ed Burns recalls how they renewed their friendship when the artist was on his deathbed:

ED BURNS:  He said to me, I need to see Susan. I want to speak to Susan. And late that evening, Susan arrived at the hospital. And it always seemed to me that those two pictures, Susan Lecturing on Nietzsche and The Erotics of Art, were his cry—in French we'd say “cri de coeur”—a cry from the heart. I need to see you, Susan. I need to reconcile. It was one of the most profoundly important relationships of his life. And Susan came and spent every day and through most of the night with Paul, and I remember going with her to a bookstore on Madison Avenue, Books and Company. She bought the Rilke Elegies and we bought Selected Poems of William Carlos Williams. And then Susan organized that people would sit with Paul, when he was asleep or awake, reading to him. And it was like a Buddhist chanting to accompany someone to their death. And this went on around the clock in the last ten days of his life. And I think he felt some deep comfort knowing that she came and that that part of his life was in order.