Blog7 840x480 - One of Our Favorites: Paul Thek

One of Our Favorites: Paul Thek

Everyone has their own favorites when it comes to art. Today, we take a good look at one of the older American artists: Paul Thek. In one of the earlier incarnations of our website, we always had a page dedicated to the pieces of Paul Thek.

Who is Paul Thek?

If you don’t know who he is, you’re missing out. Paul Thek, born on the 2nd of November in 1933 is one of the earlier artists to show that it is fully possible to transition from one particular medium to another. Thek has started his career as a painter and slowly evolved to try other mediums. He went on to try his hand at sculptures later on in his life.

Thek went to Art Students League of New York and Pratt Institute for art training. He also attended the Cooper Union School of the Arts. It was not until he moved to Miami and was introduced to other artists that he had started to create his initial drawings. These drawings would become well-known as stellar examples on how to use charcoal. Later on he tried his hand at graphite, watercolors, and even monochromatic oil paintings.

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He is probably most well-known for the series of wax sculpts which was fashioned making use of his own body. The series was called Technological Reliquaries. These wax sculpts were all presented to his audiences within glass cases. Before he released the wax sculpts, he was making quite a name for himself using meat encased within Warhol boxes under some Plexiglas. Yes, someone was making use of meat for art way before Lady Gaga came about. It is believed that Thek had abruptly ended his meat series out of the fear of being labeled as “The Meat Man”.

While such a title would have been fine with anyone who wanted to be in Ripley’s Believe it or Not, it wasn’t something that an artist like Thek would have wanted to overshadow his career. Particularly since information wasn’t easily shared back then. Unlike now when information is so easily disbursed that it is even taken for granted, a moniker like “meat man” would have killed any chance of having an open mind in any of his future shows.

Thek wanted his work to be able to express its message, not the “message” to encompass the piece itself. As such, he went on to the wax sculpts of different parts of his own body. It was the art that he worked on after the wax sculpts that really got everyone’s attention.

It was his piece entitled The Tomb that captured the interest of many. Thek had made a life-sized representation of his self and made it seem like it was decomposing. It was said that this was Thek’s commentary on the decomposing state of affairs back then. It was also touted as a critique regarding the forces which subject people to any sort of surveillances that reduces individuals to a bare state. While the pieces were not hyper realistic, it was still life-like enough that some people were scandalized. It provoked discourse regarding the concept of line that art should not cross.

As a piece of art, it did its job tremendously. It was able to provoke thought and engagement in people who had not even fully digested the piece and thought it through. Art has always been made to evoke emotion in their audience.

After much time in New York, Thek moved to Italy where her created several pieces. He eventually returned to NY—however it seemed that the fascination with him had cooled. Before passing because of AIDS/HIV, he spent majority of his time as grocery store bagger. This time in his life would serve as a wake-up call for many artists that studied Thek’s life and his work.

While you may be the toast of the town, in a few years, you may be struggling to make ends meet. While this is true for everyone no matter what your profession is, there was something a bit more terrifying to the concept for artists. Art is all about breaking free of the mold of society’s rules and expectations. To find who you are and having to cater to established routines is often scary to most artists.

For those that were utterly scared that their budding artists would live such a life, this fortified that idea that art does not pay and should only be pursued as a hobby and not as a full-time profession. It is thankful then that times have severely changed. Art has changed and will continue to change. Even the art of Thek which was one thought to be appalling is now seen in a different light.

Much like how van Gogh was not appreciated or celebrated during his time, Thek’s pieces—particularly Tomb are now being viewed as thoughtful commentaries in a way that they were not previously thought of before.

For us at Rove TV, Thek’s untitled pieces remain some of our utmost favorites. Like the one he had made in 1974 which depicted grapes hanging on the vine. Something so simple was married into newspaper. He was able to cover up line after line of current events with a peaceful and fruitful setting. It was very much like him to take the ordinary and give it a new twist. He turned something that would usually be used and tossed aside into something that was worth considering a little bit longer. It also made it quite hard to throw away (if the dastardly thought even crossed your mind).

The following year of 1975 saw another untitled piece which is more popularly referred to as “Figures by Rock”. He made use of oil on canvas and it was full testament to the fact that an artist can stray from their first medium but an always comfortably return. This, to us, gives so much hope for those who ever lose their way. All you have to is take a moment to be alone and realize that home is something that you take with you no matter where you go.

Blog1 840x480 - An Appreciation of the Earliest Art Works Known to Man

An Appreciation of the Earliest Art Works Known to Man

Art has always been in the lives of man. While most people would outright dismiss the idea of it, our earliest known ancestors had a hand in building our appreciation for art. That said,we believe that is it important to look back upon these in order to see our journey as a culture and as a people. Today, we’ll be looking closer at the earliest art works known to man.

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Venus of Galgenberg

This statue is also called the “Stratzing Figurine”. This stone art piece was discovered in late 1988. It was located during an excavation of a shelter that was believed to be used by the earlier form of humans during the Paleolithic era. At the site, there was charcoal among the flint tools and no cave art. Cave art was something that most archeologists expected to find at shelters use during the Ice Age.

However, what they experts found were not drawings but carvings. The stone sculpture was carved as indicative of the significant number of fragmentation on the ground. It was the same type of rock used on the Venus and the source material was found near the vicinity of the camp site.

The Venus herself is about three inches in height. It is believed that the source material is called Serpentine—a type of stone that was later used for axes in the Stone Age. While there were those that argued that the Venus could have just been easily been a man, further study of the figurine silenced critics.

Much like other mobiliary art found later one, the figure was clearly female. Specifically, it was a nude female as depicted by special attention given to carving the breasts and genitalia. Historians then started to hypothesize that the Venus statuettes were some form of fertility symbol. The Venus of Galgenberg is dated to around 30,000 BCE.

Abri Castanet Engravings

These engravings are one of the more recent discoveries—only being found in 2007. This was found while an inspection of the Abri Castanet as its shelter had collapsed. Experts then discovered an otherwise unobserved cache of rock engravings on the ochre-stained limestone. While the shelter itself was first found in the early 1900s it wasn’t until much later that other parts of it were found.

There were several pictographs on the ceilings. While most believed that they were put there by the uses of charcoal, like other cave art, it was later determined that these wall and ceiling pieces were put in by engraving them into the stone. There was some confusion on whether or not the “art” was part of the original shelter or was something that had formed after the shelter had collapsed.

It is lucky then that further study went on to establish that the carvings and engravings WERE part of the original shelter. The other forms of Abri Castanet art were considered to be more primitive that the art that had a later dating.

The engravings found in Abri Castanet were dated to around 35,000 BCE.

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Bhimbeka Petroglyphs

This art is generally considered to be the oldest known art from the prehistoric world. It was discovered in the 1900s in India. It was here that the concept of Cupules was discovered in relation to prehistoric art. Cupules are hemispherical cup-shaped depressions that are thought to have been hammered out of the surface of the material that’s chosen (typically rock).

The excavations in India started around the early 1970s, there were several sites that were investigated and located. However, it is the Bhimbeka Petroglyphs that were dated to be at least 290,000 to around 700,000 BCE. What made this found so interesting is that the tools that were used for the petroglyphs were all found in the area as well. “Hammerstones” were used and the archeologists also found a whopping number of cupules in the area. This automatically established that the petroglyphs were not naturally occurring fixtures.

El Castillo Cave Paintings

In English, this is referred to as the “Cave of the Castle”. This discovery is located in Spain; specifically in the “Gallery of the Hands”. These paintings were found in 1903 within a 330M long cave which was used as a shelter for prehistoric humans. Most of the cave paintings seem to be figurative in nature. There are a significant number of depictions of horses, mammoths, and even dogs. This was quite special in nature as the existence of dogs wasn’t as established. They were believed to an evolution that occurred latter on.

The paintings were dated to be at around 39,000 BCE. This set up the expectation for future archeologists that most artistic projects of prehistoric individuals would be crude wall paintings.

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Xianrendong Cave Pottery

Prehistoric art was always believed to be cave paintings. Later on, the idea shifted to allow cave petroglyphs, engravings, and carvings. Most archeologists pretty much figured that was it until the excavations in China found ceramics!

The Xianrendong Cave which was also called the Immortal’s Cave in Southeast China—the cave measures at around 23ft in height and about 36ft in width. The depth registered at around 46ft. deep and into the caves were shelters which were believed to be used by prehistoric humans.  They found round-bottomed and bag-shaped jars. Experts believed that these jars were used for cooking.

This meant a grand leap in the utilization of tools for survival and the way that early humans handled their food. No longer was the focus on mere gathering of food—they also now tried to coax textures and flavors out of their meals.

An also important discovery about this is that there were jugs that did not seem to be used for cooking. Instead, there were some that seemed to have not been utilized at all after it was made. It was then the experts postulated that some of the pottery discovered for made for the sake of creation. This went on to support the further mounting evidence of art in correlation to humanity. Wherever the humans went, art was sure to follow next.