PAUL THEK ( 1933 - 1988 )
An American sculptor, painter, and installation artist, Paul Thek (1933-1988) is primarily known for hyper-realistic works of human body parts executed in fleshlike beeswax and for his strongly symbolic, room-size installations constructed from transitory materials. A major figure on the 1960s New York art scene, Thek also spent time in Europe, where he paved the way for artists adopting collaborative strategies. Although he gained a large following and was featured in more than one hundred solo and group exhibitions, the anti-establishment 'artist's artist' was practically forgotten at the time of his death. Major exhibitions abroad and critical attention from younger artists have done much to revive his reputation, and "Paul Thek: Diver" expands on those efforts by bringing the artist's resounding influence on the art world up to date. Published to accompany Thek's first retrospective in the United States, this landmark publication includes nearly 300 chronologically arranged illustrations of sculptures, paintings, prints, and other works featured in the exhibition as well as four special 'in-depth' image sections focusing on key installations, projects, and pages from the artist's journals. An extensive selection of documentary photographs, many never before published, illuminate Thek's artistic aesthetic and production process. With a bibliography, exhibition history, and checklist of works in the exhibition, this overdue acknowledgment of Thek's brief, but broad-reaching career will be the authoritative volume on the artist for years to come.
Elisabeth Sussman is Curator and Sondra Gilman Curator of Photography at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Lynn Zelevansky is Henry J. Heinz II Director of the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh.