21er Haus · Abstract Expressionism · Advice · Aesthetics · Africa · African American · Ai Weiwei · Albrecht Dürer · Alcohol · Ali Cavanaugh · Amazon · Amsterdam · Andy Warhol · Animals · Animation · Antiquity · Apartheid · Archaeology · Architecture · Art History · Art installation · Art Market · Art nouveau · Art per se · Art Pharmacy · Art project · Art reception · Art Stage · Artemisia Gentileschi · Artist Project · Artist reunion · Artists about Art · Asad Raza · Asia · Astronomy · Atelier · Auction · Australia · Authenticity · Bach · Banksy · Barcelona · Baroque · Battle of the Sexes · Beauty · Belgium · Ben Enwonwu · Benin · Berlin · Bernini · Biennale · Bike · Bill Traylor · Biography · Biology · Border Film Project · Border-crossing · British Museum · Bronze · Budapest · Butterfly · Cameroon · Campbell’s Soup · Canada · Caravaggio · Cartoon · Cat · Charles Edward Perugini · Charles François Daubigny · Charts · Chicago · Children · China · Christian Art · Christianity · Cinema · City · Cityscape · Climate · Cloth · Clothes · Collection · Colours · Comic · Community · Construction · Consumption · Contemporary Art · Contemporary History · Count Ibex Collection · Countrysite · Cowboys · Craft · Crafting · Cuban Art · Customize · Damien Hirst · Danny Lyon · Darkness · David Eichenberg · David Hockney · Death · Debate · Deception · Decoration · Design · Destination · Detroit · Diego Rivera · Digi-Arts · Dimension · Diorama · Discrimination · Discussion · DNA · Dog · Domestic space · Drawing · Earthquake · Edmund Charles Tarbell · Education · Edward Hopper · Edwynn Houk Gallery · Egypt · Electricity · Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun · Emotions · Erasure · Ernest Lawson · Ernest Mancoba · Erwin Blumenfeld · Ethic · Ethnology · Eugène Delacroix · Eva Lewarne · Events · Exhibition · Experiment · Fake · Family · Fashion · Featured Artist · Feminism · Figurative Art · Film · Fire · Food · Form · France · Frankfurt · Frederick Goodall · French art · Frida Kahlo · Friendship · Furniture · Futurism · Gallery · Games · Garden · Geometry · George Sand · Gerard David · Gerhard Richter · Germany · Getty · Ghana · Ghosts · Gifts · Giotto · Giovanni Bellini (Giambellino) · Glass · Goethe · Gold · Good Idea · Gothic · Goya · Graffiti · Halcyon Gallery · Handcraft · Hans von Aachen · Harlem · Health · History · Horoscope · Huang Binhong · Hungarian National Gallery · Hyperrealism · Ibrahim El Salahi · Identity · Illustration · Imagination · Impressionism · India · Individuum · Indonesia · Interieur · Internet · Interview · Iran · Israel · Italy · Ivory · Ivory Coast · Jan van Scorel · Japan · Jasper Johns · Jaume Huguet · Jean Paul Gaultier · Jean-François Baudet · Jeff Koons · Jerusalem · JMW Turner · Joachim Patinir · Johannes Vermeer · John Singer Sargent · Joseph Karl Stieler · Journey · Jules Breton · Kaari Upson · Karel Appel · Karl Lagerfeld · Katsushika Hokusai · Kerry James Marshall · Keto · Kurt Hüpfner · Landscape · Latin America · Leasure · Leonardo da Vinci · Lifestyle · Lili Ország · Lisbon · Literature · London · Lorena Kloosterboer · Lorenzo Lotto · Los Angeles · Louver Gallery · Louvre · Love · Luck · Macchiavelli · Madrid · Magic · Malangatana · Malick Sidibé · Map · Marble · Marcel Duchamp · Marco Grassi · Maria Lassnig · Martha Pulina · Mary Stevenson Cassatt · Masterpiece Project · Material Culture · Matisse · Matthew Cherry · Max Friedländer · MC Escher · MEAM · Mexican Art · Miami · Michelangelo · Middle Ages · Mies van der Rohe · Minimalism · Mining · Mitch Griffiths · Mixed Media · Mobility · Modern Art · Mona Lisa · Moon · Morto da Feltre · Mosaic · Mozambique · Mulan Gallery · Munich · Murillo · Muse · Museum · Music · Mythology · Nathan Zhou · Native Americans · Nature · Neoclassic · Netherlands · New York · Nigeria · Norway · Nudity · Object · Oil paintings · Old masters · Orientalism · Osman Hamdi Bey · Pablo Picasso · Palestine · Paper · Paris · Pattern · Peace of paper · Pen and Ink · Pencil · Perspective · Peter Lindbergh · Philadelphia · Philipp Weber · Philosophy · Photographs · Photography · Places · Poetry · Poland · Politics · Pop Art · Porcelain · Portrait · Poster · Pottery · Power · Prado Museum · Prague · Presents · Printing · Protest · Psychology · Rainforest · Ramon Pichot · Raphael · Reading · Realism · Recycling · Religion · Renaissance · René Jules Lalique · René Magritte · Restauration · Review · Rings · Robert Rauschenberg · Roccoco · Roger Kemp · Romanticism · Rome · Rosa JH Berland · Royal Academy of Arts · Ruins · Russia · Rybolovlev · SAAM · Saatchi Gallery · Salvador Dali · Sappho · School · Science · Science Fiction · Sculpture · Seattle · Self-expression · Selfie · Sensation · Seoul · Sexuality · Shadow · Shakespeare · Shana Levenson · Shanghai · Shchukin · Sheryl Luxenburg · Show · Shuang Li · Singapore · Sketch · Slavery · Social Media · Society · Sophie Matisse · Sound · South Africa · Space · Spirituality · Sport · Spray painting · Städel Museum · Star Wars · State Hermitage Museum · Statistic · Still Life · Street Art · Strings · Surrealism · Surveillance · Sweden · Symmetry · Tanzania · Tate Britain · Tattoo · Technology · Temple · Textiles · The Metropolitan Museum of Art · The National Gallery · Theatre · Time · Tina Turner · Tips · Titian · Tom Watt · Tommy Hartung · Toronto · Townscape · TRAC · Travel · Turkey · UK · Underground · United Kingdom · United States · Urban Art · Urbanism · Valentin de Boulogne · Venice · Venus · Veronese · Vienna · Vincent Van Gogh · Voodoo · War · Warsaw · Washington D.C. · Water · Watercolor · Whitney Museum · Wild West · Women · World Culture Forum · World Press Freedom Day · Yoan Capote · Zhou B Art Center
 

On Paul Thek’s Warrior’s Leg

Rarely exhibited, Paul Thek’s Warrior’s Leg (1966–1967) stands in the current exhibition Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War, 1965–1975. The artist, Paul Thek (1933–1988), cast a part of leg—most likely his own—painted it in realistic detail, and adorned it with a leather sandal and greave. The top part of the leg, which we can peer onto, reveals the flesh, sinews, and ligaments; the leg fragment once belonging to a warrior, as the title tells us, had been unceremoniously cut off, perhaps in battle.

An image of a leg with a covering over it.

Paul Thek, Warrior’s Leg from the series Technological Reliquaries, 1966-67, wax, leather, metal, and paint, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Joseph H. Hirshhorn Bequest Fund, 1990. © The Estate of George Paul Thek; courtesy Alexander and Bonin, New York, Photo by Cathy Carver. Courtesy Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Paisid Aramphongphan was a recent Terra Foundation Postdoctural Fellow at SAAM and holds a doctorate in the history of art and architecture from Harvard University. He was recently awarded the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s 2019 Terra Foundation for American Art International Essay Prize for his work on the artist Paul Thek.

 

The work is part of Thek’s Technological Reliquaries series, informally known as the Meat Pieces, which he worked on from around 1964 to 1967. At first, Thek sculpted wax to look like slabs of meat, and displayed them in all their gory and shiny detail (for an example of an early Meat Piece, see Untitled (Meat Pyramid) from 1964, currently on view in SAAM’s Luce Foundation Center). Around 1966, Thek started casting his own body parts, raising the unsettling uncanniness of his work. His ultimate goal was to cast his body as a corpse, which he did in a work that he presented as his tomb (The Tomb, 1967).

Paisid Aramphongphan speaking about Paul Thek's Warrior's Leg in Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War (1965-75)

Paisid Aramphongphan speaking about Paul Thek’s Warrior’s Leg in Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War, 1965-1975

What had prompted, first of all, his morbid fascination with dead flesh and mutilated body parts? Among the formative events of his artistic imagination surely was Thek’s visit in the early 1960s, with the photographer Peter Hujar, his lover at the time, to the Catacombs in Palermo, Sicily. The sight (and, as he tells it, touch) of long dead, desiccated corpses stayed with him, and brought home the realization of the „thing-ness“ of his own body. With his Catholic background, Thek furthermore was taken in with the religious art he saw in Italy. The title of the series, Technological Reliquaries, refers to the relic tradition in religious material culture, while the leather strap and protective gear allude both to gladiators in Roman times and depictions of archangels such as Saint Michael in battle. The field of allusions the work makes—certainly not a set of common references his artistic peers were making in the 1960s at a time of self-referential, modernist art—speak to his hope of creating an art that would mean more to him, more than the cold coolness of the trendiest art of his time, from pop to minimalism, an art that would be closer to liturgy, to a „spiritual education,“ as opposed to the „technological education“ pervasive in society to the detriment of, in his view, collective well-being.

In Artists Respond, the work is shown alongside works of the often overlooked „hot“ and politicized side of 1960s art, many confronting the viewer with images of death and destruction, the ravages of war that were also being beamed straight into the living room during the first „televised war,“ as Martha Rosler’s work, also included in the exhibition, demonstrates so well. Beyond a statement against the prevailing artistic trend of his time, Warrior’s Leg in this context brings to mind losses and pain that, as Thek reflected on his experience walking through art galleries, co-mingling with his peers, the art world seemed helpless, if not simply disinterested, to do anything about. At the time of the work’s making, the US government was becoming further involved with the war in Vietnam, with deployment of more troops in the region as the war escalated, even as the anti-war movement was gaining ground.

In religious material culture, bodily fragments are not only associated with reliquaries. Another tradition is the ex-voto, a practice with a long history in many regions in the world, including in Sicily. Casts or replicas of afflicted body parts are offered to deities or higher spirits, with offerings, with prayers, with the hope to heal, or as gratitude for past healing performed. Sights of casts of legs, arms—or even models of internal organs such as the womb—lining the walls of shrines are common. Whose leg are we looking at, torn off but standing erect still? What healing could be asked of it? Whose healing?

The exhibition Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War is on view in Washington, DC through August 18. It then travels to Minnesota, opening at the Minneapolis Institute of Art September 29, 2019.

Nonument symposium part 2: How artists deal with old monuments that polarize opinions

Second part of an overview of the Nonument Symposium dedicated to hidden, abandoned and forgotten monuments of the 20th century which took place last June at CAMP, Prague’s Centre for Architecture and Metropolitan Planning.


Neja Tomšič and Martin Bricelj Baraga – Nonument Group, From Nowhere to Noplace – Pioneer Railway, 2019. Photo by Peter Giodani. More images

Nonument, the hidden, abandoned and forgotten monuments of the 20th century (part 1)

Last month, i had the chance to attend the Nonument Symposium dedicated to hidden, abandoned and forgotten monuments of the 20th century at CAMP, Prague’s Centre for Architecture and Metropolitan Planning.


Banner of Peace, Sofia, Bulgaria. Photo: HHS/MPAS

Unable to display Facebook posts.
Show error

Error: Error validating application. Application has been deleted.
Type: OAuthException
Code: 190
Please refer to our Error Message Reference.