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Paul Thek Portrait

Paul Thek

Born:
New York, New York 1933

Died:
New York, New York 1988

Photo Caption:
Photography by Peter Hujar, courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery, Peter Hujar Archive, LLC.

Luce Artist Quote

“The dissonance of the two surfaces, glass and wax, pleases me: one is clear and shiny and hard, the other is soft and slimy. I try to harmonize them without relating them . . .” Paul Thek, ARTnews, April 1966


Luce Artist Biography

Paul Thek appreciated the beauty in all things, even those that might appear repulsive to others. In the early 1950s he studied at the Art Students League and the Pratt Institute in New York. He mostly did paintings and drawings until the mid-1960s, when he began making wax sculptures that looked like raw meat or human limbs. He drew inspiration from ancient crypts he saw in Sicily, where “bodies [were] used to decorate a room, like flowers.” Thek eventually abandoned his grotesque imagery and resumed drawing and painting. He also constructed room-size installations of sand, newspaper, and trees. The subject of Thek’s earlier “meat” sculptures and his preference for unstable materials later in his career reveal his lifelong concern with the passing of time and the vulnerability of human flesh.