On January 31th 2015 Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen was showing letters, sculptures and documentation of ‘environments’ by the American artist Paul Thek (New York 1933-1988). The exhibition was an intimate presentation focussing on the museum’s collection of letters that Thek wrote to fellow artist Franz Deckwitz. There has been a growing interest in Thek’s work in the two decade since his first posthumous retrospective exhibition was held in Rotterdam in 1995. Now the Dutch public has another opportunity to acquaint itself with Thek’s fascinating oeuvre.
Paul Thek’s works range from drawings, paintings and sculptures in wax and bronze to large-scale installations. He created lumps of meat from wax, which he suspended on cables, and he painted on newspapers. He was inspired by religion, literature, theatre and everyday life. His multifaceted oeuvre occupies a unique place within the art of the 1960s and 1970s.
At the heart of the exhibition were Thek’s letters to his friend and fellow artist Franz Deckwitz (Schermerhorn, 1934 - Amsterdam, 1994) written between 1962 and 1988, which the museum recently acquired from Deckwitz’s estate. They are shown alongside nineteen works by Thek acquired by the museum from Deckwitz’s estate some twenty years ago. The letters provide an insight into Thek’s life, his artistic development and his collaboration with Deckwitz.
The exhibition coincides with the publication of the latest in the series of Boijmans Studies, ‘Please Write!’ Paul Thek and Franz Deckwitz: an Artists’ Friendship , which uses Thek’s letters to Deckwitz to place his work in the context of Europe, the Netherlands and Rotterdam. It includes catalogue entries on and illustrations of each of the nineteen paintings, drawings and objects by Thek in the museum’s collection. The publication is available from bookshops, the museum shop and online at webshop.boijmans.nl