Luc Tuymans is one of today's most widely admired painters, a continuation of the great tradition of Northern European painting and an enduring influence on younger and emerging artists. As a European child of the 1950s, his relationship to painting is inevitably structured by television, cinema and by the lingering effects of World War II; more recent historical preoccupations have included the dramatic turn of world events post-9/11. Tuymans combines a muted palette with deteriorated surface effect and a singular use of cropping, close-up and sequencing--perfect devices with which to undertake his investigation of the pathological, the banal and the conspiratorial. Published in conjunction with the artist's first full-scale American survey, this is without question the authoritative publication on Tuymans. It features approximately 75 key works from 1978 to the present, and is accompanied by essays analyzing the painter's main concerns, with particular attention paid to his working process and his adaptation of source materials. Helen Molesworth examines themes of sinister banality, Joseph Leo Koerner writes on iconophobia and iconophilia, Ralph Rugoff considers the nature of visual experience in light of Tuymans' recent work, and Bill Horrigan examines cinematic sources. This book is not only the most comprehensive survey of Tuymans' career to date, but also the most thorough chronology of his artistic development.
Born in Mortsel, Belgium, in 1958, Luc Tuymans first exhibited his paintings in 1985, at Palais des Thermes in Ostend. His first U.S. exhibition came ten years later, at The Renaissance Society in Chicago. He has also worked in film and printmaking.
"Like a ragged piece of cloth hung on the wall to dry, Towel can be understood as a humorous riposte to the history and reception of modernist painting and art criticism. The theories of the critic Clement Greenberg, who argued for flatness and self-referentiality as modernist painting’s highest aim, seem to be a particular target of Tuymans’ wry parody. Towel, if it were actually woven cloth, instead of a quasi-realist oil painting, would indeed integrate line, color and surface in a single plane, serving as a kind of readymade modernist canvas. At the same time, the worn appearance of Towel cynically suggests that the utopian aesthetic of modernist painting such as Mondrian’s, in spite of its proponents’ socially radical utopian aims, has found its end in banal domestic objects, becoming entrenched in daily life as an outdated modernist-kitsch style."
Clth, 10 x 11.75 in. / 228 pgs / 175 color, 2009
Publisher: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art/ Wexner Center for the Arts
Author(s): Helen Molesworth, Joseph L. Koerner, Ralph Rugoff, Bill Horrigan.
Publication editor: Madeleine Grynsztejn, Helen Molesworth
Artist(s): Luc Tuymans