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),Titled Arc II, 1985. Graphite and watercolor on paper, 19 x 25 in. (48.3 x 63.5 cm). Watermill Center Collection; courtesy Alexander and Bonin, New York © The Estate of George Paul Thek; courtesy of Alexander and Bonin, New York


NARRATOR: This fanciful drawing, called Tilted Ark, refers to a controversial public sculpture by the artist Richard Serra—a 120-foot long, 12-foot high solid arc of steel. When the work was installed across Federal Plaza in Downtown Manhattan in 1981, workers complained that it ruined the open space they had enjoyed. Thek offers an alternative to Serra’s work, transforming his arc with a “c” into a kind of Noah’s ark. Ed Burns recalls their discussions about the piece:

ED BURNS: What he felt was that Richard Serra dehumanized the space. And what he tried to achieve in the drawings, by putting a hole in it, so that people could walk through, he said to me at the time, when we had walked down to Federal Plaza, he said there's nowhere here for anyone to sit down. There was no human space there. And he felt the same way about the black cube at Astor Place, that it dehumanized a public space. He envisioned an Arc De Triumph with flowers and spaces where children could play. I mean, there was a spirit of play about him.