Paul Thek

ZKM | Center for Art and Media

In the late 1960s and the ’70s, Paul Thek, the American artist to whom Susan Sontag dedicated her book Against Interpretation (1966), seemed to be everywhere. He had exhibitions at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (1969) and at Moderna Museet in Stockholm (1971), and his work was included in Documenta 5 in Kassel in 1972, in the Venice Biennale in 1976 and 1980, and in the big “Westkunst” show in Cologne in 1981. Then his career went quieter. In 1988, Thek died of AIDS, but just four years later Mike Kelley would write, “Now he has suddenly been taken up again by historians. Why? The obvious reason is that so many new artworks look like Paul Thek’s.” He remains an artist’s artist, and so it is fitting that “Paul Thek: Werkschau im Kontext zeitgenössischer Kunst” (Paul Thek in the Context of Contemporary Art)—which will travel to the Falckenberg Collection, Hamburg, May 30–September

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