Paul Thek. Hippopotamus Poison. 1965

Paul Thek Hippopotamus Poison 1965

  • Not on view

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.
Medium
Wax, stainless steel, and plexiglass
Dimensions
25 1/4 x 19 1/4 x 11 3/8" (64.2 x 48.9 x 28.9 cm)
Credit
Gift of Neil Jenney in honor of Ann Wilson
Object number
375.1991
Copyright
© 2018 Paul Thek
Department
Painting and Sculpture

Installation views

MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos.

If you notice an error, please contact us at digital@moma.org.

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

All requests to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA should be addressed to Scala Archives at firenze@scalarchives.com. Motion picture film stills or motion picture footage from films in MoMA's Film Collection cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For licensing motion picture film footage it is advised to apply directly to the copyright holders. For access to motion picture film stills please contact the Film Study Center. More information is also available about the film collection and the Circulating Film and Video Library.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication or moma.org, please email text_permissions@moma.org. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to archives@moma.org.

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to digital@moma.org.