Paul Thek. Hippopotamus Poison. 1965

Paul Thek

Hippopotamus Poison


Wax, stainless steel, and plexiglass
25 1/4 x 19 1/4 x 11 3/8" (64.2 x 48.9 x 28.9 cm)
Gift of Neil Jenney in honor of Ann Wilson
Object number
© 2017 Paul Thek
Painting and Sculpture
This work is not on view.
Paul Thek has 11 works  online.
There are 1,556 sculptures online.

Hippopotamus Poison belongs to the series Technological Reliquaries, which Thek began in New York after a summer spent in Sicily. The work engages the Roman Catholic tradition of venerating saintly bodies that Thek had observed firsthand in the catacombs near Palermo and simultaneously offers a critique of the art of the time, Pop and Minimalism in particular. Within a visually seductive display case made from colored plexiglass sits what appears to be a slab of rotten meat, realistically rendered in wax. Inscribed on the vitrine is a paranoid quote that nods to a generation's underlying fears. "The world was falling apart, anyone could see it," Thek has explained. "I was a wreck, the block was a wreck, the city was a wreck; and I’d go to a gallery and there would be a lot of fancy people looking at a lot of stuff that didn’t say anything about anything to anyone."

Gallery label from From the Collection: 1960-69, March 26, 2016 - March 12, 2017

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