With a selection of over 300 works, mostly from private collections, this exhibition is the most comprehensive retrospective dedicated to Paul Thek (New York, United States, 1933-1988). Among the selected pieces are paintings and photography, as well as objects of collective works that the artist produced for various European institutions. Thek considered the key to the relationship between man and the world was in continuous wandering, and spent much of his career in voluntary exile in Europe. The artist lived in different cities, fuelling a distinctly cosmopolitan art.
Thek's work is among the central sources of artistic revolution during the Sixties, and had a great influence on both contemporary artists and on successive generations, especially through his installations, with which he redefines the limits established until the Seventies regarding the format of artwork. Along with the artist's bronze sculptures and objects, numerous paintings are also exhibited. Painting will be a constant throughout his career and in it a critical position is recognised, with humour and freedom from conventions and quirks of the institutionalised art world.
The work of this New Yorker stems from confronted realities: his work is marked by the Catholic religion, and he openly confesses his homosexuality while at the same time shows a desire to marry and have a child. Among the pieces on exhibition his most well-known series, Technological Reliquaries stands out, inspired by a visit to the Capuchin catacombs of Palermo and produced in New York between 1964 and 1967. These works represent human body parts created with extremely lifelike wax, like a reliquary of the technological age, in contrast to the widespread minimalism in New York at the time and a way of evoking a set of ideas of mystical depth that would be translated into reflections on the ephemeral, the aura, the natural, organic, profane and religious.
Throughout his career Thek produces numerous collective works with the group of artists Co-op for important European institutions. Some of these pieces, made as an installation, have been preserved and exhibited along with the photographs of other installations that have survived to this day.
Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie ZKM, Karlsruhe (December 15, 2007 - March 30, 2008); Sammlung Falckenberg, Hamburg (May 31 - September 14, 2008)