PRINT January 2011


Paul Thek in his East Third Street studio with the “Dead Hippie,” New York, 1967. Photo: Peter Hujar.


I MOVED TO NEW YORK CITY in late 1966 with drawings of light pieces that I dreamed up while waiting at a taxi stand in Boston for someone to jump into my cab. Many people were doing sheet-metal stuff on the Bowery, and I, too, had a little sheet-metal thing that I needed for a light piece (which eventually sold to Kasper König). Well, no one, it seemed, would do the job because it was so small they didn’t want to bother. Finally someone says, “Such-and-such Bowery, second floor, Mr. Biederman.”

Sigmund Biederman, age 78–84, was the kind of person who made New York great. “Sure, kid, sure—I work with a lotta artists, Robert Lobe, Billy Apple, Paul Thek—”

“Paul Thek!” I shouts, remembering a single photo in Arts Magazine of Hippopotamus Poison [1965] (the “I, Sylvia Kraus . . .” piece). To me it was pure, unadorned meat of monumental form (this piece lacks all

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