Announcing Representation of the Paul Thek Estate

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Homage is pleased to announce its global representation of the estate of legendary American artist Paul Thek. Working across sculpture, painting, and installation, Thek cultivated an entirely idiosyncratic approach to art making that toyed with both Pop and Minimalism while rejecting the dominant strains of those movements. Best known for his Technological Reliquaries series, “meat pieces” comprising hyper-realistic wax sculptures depicting hunks of flesh—both human and otherwise—and encased inside pristine transparent vitrines, he is among the most important figures of the post-1960s generation.

The gallery’s representation of Thek’s estate is a homecoming of sorts, since the artist’s second-ever solo exhibition was presented by Pace in New York in 1966. As the primary representative of the estate on a global scale, Pace will work in collaboration with the Paul Thek Foundation and The Watermill Center in Water Mill, New York, along with Galerie Buchholz in Berlin and Cologne and Mai 36 Galerie in Zürich. The Thek estate joins more than 30 artists’ estates represented by Pace, including those of Alexander Calder, Jean Dubuffet, Peter Hujar, Agnes Martin, Louise Nevelson, and Mark Rothko.

Thek, who died of AIDS-related complications in 1988, left behind more than 100 notebooks containing drawings and watercolors, diary entries, poetry, correspondences, ideas for artworks, and elaborate transcriptions of texts by philosophers or theologians. Providing unparalleled insight into his imagination, these notebooks, which Thek considered artworks unto themselves, will be the subject of a landmark exhibition presented at Pace’s New York gallery in 2025.

To date, Thek’s notebooks have been only sporadically exhibited, and most have never been seen by the public. Pace’s forthcoming exhibition—which will present nearly 100 of the extant notebooks, offering a window into the artist’s mind—will be curated by the gallery’s Chairman and Founder Arne Glimcher, who knew Thek and exhibited his work in the 1960s; the gallery’s Chief Curator Oliver Shultz, who wrote his doctoral dissertation on the artist; and Noah Khoshbin, Managing Director of the Estate of Paul Thek and Curator of The Watermill Center.

This exhibition will mark the beginning of a multi-year publication project led by Pace, which aims to make the entire contents of Thek’s notebooks accessible to the public.

Marc Glimcher, CEO of Pace Gallery, says:
"We're so thrilled to begin representing the estate of Paul Thek, who posed radical questions about what art can be and what kinds of emotional and intellectual responses it might inspire. Our exhibition of his notebooks in New York next year will shed light on how Thek worked through ideas for his sculptures, paintings, and installations, and we're so proud to kick off a multi-year publishing project focused on his extraordinary, rarely seen notebooks with this upcoming show."

Arne Glimcher, Founder and Chairman of Pace Gallery, says:
“I met Paul Thek in the early 60s in a small art world filled with camaraderie and collaboration. I was curating an exhibition entitled Beyond Realism that I thought would reveal the surrealist influence on the Pop artists. Paul Thek was a perfect fit. With my business partner Fred Mueller, who had recently seen the work, we visited the studio. There are rare moments when I have been astonished to experience something I’d never seen before. This was one of them. In process on his worktable were two meat pieces glistening with layers of fat and bristling with human hair. I was totally transported and thought the meat was real, and I actually thought I smelled it. We talked for hours about the works he wanted to make encased in complex Plexiglas vitrines and tall Formica reliquary columns.

Being part of something great is a rare gift. We immediately agreed to finance his production and in the months that followed I worked very closely with Paul to find technicians capable of his demands. We became close friends, and I supervised the construction of the reliquaries that would become his solo exhibition at Pace in 1966. It is very significant for Pace to represent the Paul Thek estate and I look forward to collaborating with Robert Wilson, Noah Khoshbin, and Oliver Shultz on the forthcoming exhibition of the artist's notebooks in 2025. There are surprises and discoveries to be made!”

Noah Khoshbin, Managing Director of the Estate of Paul Thek and Curator of The Watermill Center, says:
“Pace Gallery gave Paul Thek his first support in the 1960’s. It was foundational for him. That legacy continues. No other gallery has the history, the heartfelt passion, and the academic scholarship in terms of Paul’s life and work. Paul said the following in one of his notebooks: 'I think my time will come so I don't want to FORCE it, or push it, because then it will come and then be OVER, so I’d rather wait longer and perhaps enjoy it more.' Executor Robert Wilson and I feel strongly that Pace Gallery, along with our other partners, not only will be the best stewards of Paul’s legacy, but will be a collective catalyst expanding Paul’s vision into the future. This is, very truly, Paul’s time.”

Born George Thek in Brooklyn, New York in 1933, the artist grew up in the borough’s Sheepshead Bay neighborhood. He studied at the Art Students League, the Pratt Institute, and Cooper Union School of Art in the early 1950s. Moving to Miami in 1954, Thek became part of an artistic circle that included set designer Peter Harvey; photographer Peter Hujar, who would become Thek’s boyfriend; and writer Tennessee Williams. His letters from this period reveal that he began referring to himself as Paul in the mid-1950s.

Later that decade, Thek returned to New York with Hujar. He exploded onto the city’s cultural scene in 1964 with his first solo exhibition at Eleanor Ward’s Stable Gallery, which featured Thek’s disturbingly realistic wax depictions of human flesh—replete with layers of sinew, skin, fat, and hair—that he displayed in glass boxes resembling minimalist sculpture. The show was a sensation that catapulted Thek to the forefront of the New York art world.