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 were encased in Plexiglas vitrines. In the late 1960s and 1970s, Thek spent much of his time in Europe exhibiting collaborative room-size installations constructed from transitory materials such as sand, newspaper and trees. These installations were exhibited at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the Moderna Museet, Stockholm; “Documenta V,” Kassel and the Kunstmuseum Lucerne. 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.
From 2010 through 2011, “Diver,” a retrospective of his work curated by Elisabeth Sussman and Lynn Zelevansky traveled from the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York to the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh and the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. In early 2015, Alexander and Bonin presented “Ponza and Roma” which is the first exhibition to examine the paintings and drawings Thek made in Italy in the 1970s. Beginning February 6, the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam will have a presentation of the works and letters of Paul Thek which came into their collection in 1994 through the bequest of Franz Deckwitz.