Today, the Whitney Museum of American Art has thrown the doors open on “Diver” a retrospective exhibition highlighting the wide scope of work generated by artist Paul Thek in his short lifetime. Yesterday, the museum let us in to preview the work on display and we have some photos to share.
The retrospect is thoughtfully curated. Each room folds out another aspect, time period and location change from the career of the artist. It’s a sensation that is felt by the viewer as avenues that appear as growth from change rather than linear progress. To experience the work contained in “Diver” as it is laid out is to get a surreal sense of the life of Paul Thek.
The last room of the exhibit contains work produced shortly before Thek submitted to complications from AIDS. The paintings are hung very low in this room. The audience is forced to bow or kneel to engage the work closely. Thek’s sentiments, knowing he was going to die, unearth a beauty of spirit and directness that reorganize his life’s effort into new clarity.
Paul Thek was a man that knew the history of his trade well, this is evident from getting to know his work. Another thing that jumps out is that he became, himself, an influence to countless artists. It is the first major examination of his work in the United States. If time and space are against you and you can’t get to New York, pick up the 304 page catalogue, here.
More photos after the break.
Diver, A Retrospective
21 October – 9 January 2010
Whitney Museum of American Art