PRINT January 2011


Paul Thek, The Painter Paints, 1985, watercolor and pencil on paper, 18 x 24".


FOR PAUL THEK, painting was a both a vocation and a discipline. “We must discover WHY we are really painting, really WHY . . . painters are priests . . . IT IS A GLORIOUS JOB + WE . . . TRY ALWAYS HARDER + ALWAYS WE KNOW IT IS NEVER ENOUGH . . . ,” he wrote in a 1973 letter to painter Franz Deckwitz. While most of Thek’s sculptural work and installations were created on commission, painting was the activity that he pursued consistently, irrespective of a destination. As R. H. Quaytman observed in the 1995 catalogue for Thek’s first big retrospective, “The Wonderful World That Almost Was” at Rotterdam’s Witte de With, both his paintings and his notebook writings are “disarmingly devoid of artistry.” To Thek, who believed that the only antidote to pain lay in execution and beauty, the skills and sleights of hand implied by “artistry” were beside the point. THE PAINTER

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.