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Born: 1933, Brooklyn, New York
Died: 1988, New York City
Paul Thek began his career in the 1960s as a painter. During the following decade, he turned to sculpture and installation art, but painting remained a consistent part of his art making, He often used the contained format of pages appropriated from the daily newspaper as the background for witty, semiabstract, and oddly beautiful compositions. Works such as 2 Birds and Dinosaur (Unfinished), both from 1975, are poignantly beautiful with their simple gestures and brightly colored surfaces. Similarly, as an installation artist, he preferred to construct his intricate "processions" from quotidian materials, such as newspapers, crates, branches, sand, inexpensive cloth, and cast-wax objects. These visually lush environments created from ephemeral materials express a profound sensibility to the passage of time. Thek also left behind notebooks filled with his alternately lucid, poetic, and manic scribbling. Viewed together these writings compose a portrait of an individual whose conflicted views on religion, sexuality, and identity informed some of the most poignant, innovative, and heterogeneous artworks of our time, even as they posed an insurmountable burden to his very existence.