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Kunstmuseum Luzern announces Paul Thek in Process (Luzern)

Kunstmuseum Luzern presents Paul Thek, in Process (Luzern) on view Kunstmuseum Luzern announces Paul Thek, in Process (Luzern) August 11–November 18, 2012.

Paul Thek, Portrait, 1972. Photograph, string and tape, 25.5 x 20 cm. Collection Kunstmuseum Luzern for the work of art © The Estate of George Paul Thek, New York, courtesy Alexander and Bonin, New York.

In 1973, the American artist Paul Thek (1933–1988) realized, along with his friends, the Artist’s Co-Op, the environment Ark, Pyramid, Easter – A Visiting Group Show at the Museum of Art Lucerne. The exhibition was the fourth in a series of what are today seen as the most significant atmospheric large-scale projects of the 1970s using individualized religious symbols. These installations, now lost, are also among the central works of the legendary artist. The goal of this series of exhibitions is to memorialize Thek’s work of that time and to locate it within a larger historical context. As exhibition, documentation, and inscenation Paul Thek, in Process also investigates the status of ephemeral materials in exhibitions, the boundaries of the artwork, institutional history, reception, and today’s practice of re-inscenation integrating ideas of an archaeological research and a transparent, revealing art mediation. The project also follows Paul Thek’s travels across Europe. The exhibition is and will be shown in different forms at the LehmbruckMuseum in Duisburg (27 April–29 July 2012), at Museum of Art Lucerne (11 August–18 November 2012) and at the Moderna Museet Stockholm (spring 2013).

In comparison with the stages of the exhibition in Duisburg and Stockholm, in Lucerne Thek’s idea of collaborative working practice plays a particularly important part. In 1973 the artist officially abandoned individual authorship for the first time and made the collective working method the subject of the exhibition itself. Consequently, in Paul Thek, in Process (Lucerne), some of the artists who worked in the Artist’s Co-op will be introduced. The exhibited works will also focus on the traces that Paul Thek left in the collection. Almost all the works, documents and ephemera preserved in the collection are components of the presentation. Thek’s alter ego, Fishman (1969) becomes just as much a part of the exhibition as the countless component parts of the former installation Chicken Coop (1969–1971). And Dwarf Parade Table (1969), the almost completely preserved core piece from Thek’s process-based exhibition production in the 1970s, is being re-staged. The preparative process for Ark, Pyramid, Easter and Thek’s working method becomes clear from the correspondence between the artist and the then curator Jean-Christophe Ammann. The numerous preserved drawings, commentaries, notations, poems, and prayers by the artist and the Artist’s Co-op are also being shown in their entirety for the first time. Apart from the reference to the collection of the Museum of Art Lucerne, Paul Thek, in Process (Luzern) does not only show an unusual artistic personality, but also places Thek’s work in the context of the cultural milieu in New York at the end of the 1960s and early 1970s. Thek, who became famous with his hyper-realistic ‘Meat Pieces’ of sculpted wax and paint in glass cases, worked, for example, with the American director Robert Wilson (b. 1941). The exhibition will shed some light on the parallel development of these two artists. One other focus of the exhibition is the idea of ‘individual mythologies,’ developed by Harald Szeemann for documenta 5, of which Thek was a major representative, remaining the most prominent example, even today, of the artists gathered under that heading. Curated by Susanne Neubauer.

Events and art educational program please see For exhibition series documentation, please see

Featuring: Franz Deckwitz, Peter Hujar, Edwin Klein, Cindy Lubar Bishop, Gregory Markopoulos, Linda Rosenkrantz, Susan Sontag, Harald Szeemann, Wahundra (Lee Fitzgerald), Ann Wilson and Robert Wilson.

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