Paul Thek: newspaper paintings 1981-1983
Apr 7 – May 12, 2007
An exhibition of paintings on newspaper by Paul Thek will open April 7th at Alexander and Bonin. This will be the first time that these works, painted between 1981 and 1983, will be exhibited collectively.
Thek’s use of newspaper in his installations and as a drawing support began in 1969 and was a recurring element of his work until his death in 1988. The dates and types of newspaper reflect where he was living. During the mid-1970s Thek typically isolated a single image (i.e. dinosaur, ‘hot’ potato or dish of prunes) against an opaque ground of color painted on pages of the International Herald Tribune. The newspaper works of the early 1980s are more abstract, allover in their composition, and diverse in color. In these works, painted on pages of The New York Times, Thek increasingly allowed transparency to reveal articles of interest.
Paul Thek was born in Brooklyn in 1933. He studied at the Art Students League and Pratt Institute in the early 1950s. In the mid-1960s, he produced a well-known body of work, The Technological Reliquaries: wax sculptures which looked like raw meat or human limbs and were encased in plexiglas vitrines. Large-scale, full-body casts followed, sometimes set into specific environments. In the late 1960s and 1970s, Thek spent much of his time in Europe making room-size installations constructed from transitory materials such as sand, newspaper and trees. Aside from the wax sculptures of the 60s and a group of bronzes made in Rome in the mid-1970s, Thek's existing artworks are paintings and drawings.
There have been two retrospectives of his work -- ICA, Philadelphia, 1977 and Witte de With, Rotterdam, 1995 (traveled). Elisabeth Sussman and Lynn Zelevansky are currently researching a retrospective to be presented at the Whitney Museum of American Art and Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2010-2011. Thek’s work is included in numerous American and European museum collections with particularly strong representation of his drawings at the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.