Far Away, So Close: Paul Thek & Robert Wilson, American Artists in Europe 1971-1972

39 Water Mill Towd Road
Water Mill, New York 11976


In 1971 and 1972 the American artist Paul Thek started participating in the plays Robert Wilson made in Europe in these years. About this collaboration very little is known. In the literature about Thek it is little more than a footnote. But it seems meeting Wilson was much more important for Thek.
Thek visited Deafman Glance in Paris in 1971 and was astonished: he recognized the symbols Wilson used. They were sometimes surprisingly close to the symbols he used in his own installations and paintings. By starting to work with Wilson, Thek seems to have been influenced by the rich ideas of the plays.
In this interview with Wilson Tempel will talk about these ideas, the symbolic meaning of the objects, the role literature, art and scientific publications played. Thek was not afraid to be inspired by mythologies, the Bible and popular literature. This all resulted in a very personal use of objects, and given them a unique symbolic meaning. In this, he can be compared to the work of Vincent van Gogh.
Temple will also discuss the attraction that Europe had on American artist. By going to the old continent the American artists seemed to gain something, but at the same time the lost (partly) the connection with their home country. This resulted in a paradox. By looking into these questions Tempel will hope to bring more insight into the work of Thek and Wilson, but also to explain more about the working progress of artists in these days in the early Seventies.