In colors so bright as to be almost garish, the rough-hewn brushstrokes of Paul Thek’s “Newspaper Paintings,” 1981–83—featuring sprays of yellow polka dots, fields of pink, and slashes of electric blue—allow us, to varying degrees, to see the even type on the New York Times pages on which they were made. Here shown collectively for the first time, these works comprise a discrete series within a career-long body of paintings using newspaper as a support. Thek’s early works, made in the late 1960s, involved rendering isolated images (a diver, a seascape, flowers) on grounds of opaque color; he then worked toward a form of abstraction centered on the play of surface treatments.
Unlike Thek’s Vietnam-era sculptures and installations, such as “Technological Reliquaries,” 1964–67 (hunks of meat rendered in wax and housed in Plexiglas cases) or The Tomb–Death of a Hippie, 1967 (a pink ziggurat
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