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Luc Tuymans


Luc Tuymans, Schwarzheide, 1986
Luc Tuymans
Sept 17, 2009–Jan 2, 2010
Experience the work of Belgian contemporary artist Luc Tuymans in his first U.S. retrospective—and the most comprehensive presentation of his art to date.

Jointly organized by the Wexner Center and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), the exhibition spans every phase of the artist’s career and features more than 70 key paintings from 1978 to the present. It premieres at the Wexner Center in September and will then be shown at SFMOMA, before touring to the Dallas Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, and the Bozar Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels. The retrospective is co-curated by Madeleine Grynsztejn, Pritzker Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (and SFMOMA’s former Elise S. Haas Senior Curator of Painting and Sculpture), and Helen Molesworth, Maisie K. and James R. Houghton Curator of Contemporary Art at the Harvard Art Museum (and former chief curator of exhibitions at the Wexner Center).

Luc Tuymans (b. 1958) is considered one of the most significant painters of his generation, and he has been an enduring influence on younger and emerging artists. Born and raised in Antwerp, where he lives and works, Tuymans is an inheritor to the vast tradition of Northern European painting and draws on this heritage in his work. At the same time, as a child of the 1950s and 1960s, he is deeply interested in and understandably influenced by photography, television, and cinema. Also interested in the lingering effects of World War II on the lives of Europeans, he frequently explores issues of history and memory. His distinctive compositions make ingenious use of cropping, close-ups, framing, and sequencing, offering fresh perspectives on the medium of painting, as well as larger cultural issues. Tuymans’s paintings might initially suggest relatively innocuous depictions of everyday life, but there is almost always another meaning lurking beneath the surface. The artist’s more recent work addresses the postcolonial situation in the Congo and the dramatic turn of world events after 9/11; these series have led Tuymans to a sustained investigation of the realms of the pathological and the conspiratorial.

Luc Tuymans fills all the Wexner Center’s galleries and highlights the fluid progression of the artist’s work. Because his career began with filmmaking, Tuymans’s painting approach often suggests montage, as one image links to another, and additional meaning is conveyed by the pieces’ adjacency. The retrospective reunites paintings in several of the groupings originally set out by the artist and so conveys the original dialogue among the works. The presentation also demonstrates how Tuymans’s tendency to work in suites and at an ever-larger scale align his work with current installation and site-specific art.

Tuymans’s deep engagement with the legacy of painting will also be emphasized in the exhibition. His signature brushwork and palette offer an innovative response to the great 20th-century schism between figurative representation and abstraction. At the same time, he treats all genres—including still life, landscape, and portraiture—with the same measured approach as a grand history painting. Tuymans may even be said to have reinvented history painting for the present day, using moments from the recent past to shed light on the fragile nature of memory. In using this traditional painting genre to depict contemporary political events, he also explores disengagement from the realities of the present.

This exhibition was organized by the Wexner Center and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Luc Tuymans on Twitter
Get all the news about Luc Tuymans at the Wexner Center and beyond. Follow @tuymanstour on Twitter.

Luc Tuymans Audio Cell Phone Tour
Hear artist Luc Tuymans talk about his process and selected works in this exhibition with the audio tour.

Keep reading for complete exhibition tour and image information. Exhibtion tour dates
Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, September 17, 2009 to January 3, 2010
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, February 6 to May 2, 2010
Dallas Museum of Art, June 6 to September 5, 2010
Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, October 2, 2010 to January 9, 2011
Bozar Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels, February 10 to May 8, 2011

Complete image captions

1. Schwarzheide, 1986
Oil on canvas
23 5/8 x 27 1/2 in. (60 x 69.9 cm)
Private collection
Copyright Luc Tuymans
Photo courtesy David Zwirner, New York

2. Orchid, 1998
Oil on canvas
39 1/4 x 30 1/4 in. (99.7 x 76.8 cm)
Private collection, New York, courtesy David Zwirner, New York
Copyright Luc Tuymans
Photo: Felix Tirry

3. W, 2008
Oil on canvas, 74 x 47 in. (188 x 119.4 cm)
Private collection, courtesy David Zwirner, New York
Copyright Luc Tuymans
Photo courtesy David Zwirner, New York
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