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Home » Go See – San Francisco: Luc Tuymans Retrospective at SFMOMA through May 2, 2010

Go See – San Francisco: Luc Tuymans Retrospective at SFMOMA through May 2, 2010

March 21st, 2010


Luc Tuymans The Secretary of State , 2005 on display at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. All images via SFMOMA unless otherwise noted

Currently on view at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is a very significant retrospective of the work of Luc Tuymans,  a renowned artist from Antwerp, Belgium.  This comprehensive retrospective is the first American show of such scale for the artist. The traveling exhibition opened in September 2009 at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio, then on January 3, 2010 it traveled to SF MoMA. The show will then travel to Dallas Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. The exhibition features seventy five paintings produced since 1975 to the present. The retrospective is co-curated by Madeleine Grynsztejn, Pritzker Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (and former SFMOMA 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 for the Arts).


CCTV, 2009

More text, images and related links after the jump….



Luc Tuymans Orchid ,1998


Luc Tuymans Gas Chamber, 1986. The artist gained international recognition for his Holocaust-related work. The work is based on the sketch the artist personally made at Auschwitz.


Luc Tuymans Bend Over, 2001 caused a sensation at “The Rumor”, Tuyman’s show in London in 2001

Considered by many as one of the most important and influential artists working today, Tuymans draws on the traditions of classic Northern European painting as well as television, cinema and photography. Calling his work ” authentic forgeries,” Tuymans appropriates images from a variety of sources and makes use of cropping, close-ups, framing, and sequencing to offer fresh perspectives on the medium of painting as well as larger cultural issues.  Best known for his works that explore the Holocaust, most recently Tuymans turned his attention to more recent historic events such as the aftermath of 9/11 ( Proper series) or the uneasy relations between his native Belgium and the Democratic Republic of Congo (Mwana Kitoko: A Beautiful Young Man).


Luc Tuymans Ballroom dancing , 2005.

According to artist’s observations, dancing shows on television became increasingly popular among Americans after 9/11  the shows provided viewers with the opportunity to relax.  Tuymans believes that it is the predictability of ballroom dancing that gave the audience feelings of comfort.  He stumbled upon this image while browsing the Internet for the photograph of the Texas’ governor’s ball, as the seal on the floor suggests.

Chalk, 2000

Chalk, 2000  forms part of Tuyman’s series A Beautiful White Man, dedicated to the violent stand-off between Belgium and the Republic of Congo. This particular painting is based on the tragic assassination of the first black Congo president, Patrice Lumumba, whose body was mercilessly mutilated to prevent the creation of martyrdom status.

CCTV, seen at the top of the page, is one of the artist’s most recent works, where Tuymans examines the notions of paranoia and pop-culture. The present image is the interpretation of the popular European television show The Big Brother.

The Diagonostic View, 1992, a series based on the images found in a German physician’s handbook documenting various physical abnormalities.

Luc Tuymans was born in 1958 in in Mortsel, Belgium. He began his studies in the fine arts at the Sint-Lukasinstituut in Brussels in 1976. Subsequently he studied fine arts at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Visuels de la Cambre in Brussels, Belgium (1979-1980) and at the Koninklijke Academie voor Schone Kunsten in Antwerp, Belgium (1980-1982). He also studied art history at the Vrije Universiteit in Brussels, Belgium (1982-1986). He holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Antwerp in Antwerp, Belgium and was honored by the Belgian government when they bestowed upon him the title of Commander, Order of Leopold in 2007.
The works of Luc Tuymans are represented in the collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, New York; Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California; Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst, Antwerp, Belgium; Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent, Belgium; Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht, The Netherlands; Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Wolfsburg, Germany; Museum fuer Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt, Germany; Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, Germany; and the Tate Gallery, London, England.

Relevant Links:
The exhibition’s web-page [SF MoMa]
Works by Luc Tuymans from the collection of the Museum of Modern Art[MoMa]
The artist’s page at David Zwirner Gallery[David Zwirner Gallery]
Can my Colleagues be serious? [Wall Street Journal]
Why Paintings succeed where words fail? [The Art Newspaper]
Putting the Wrongs of History in Paint[The New York Times]
Flemish Master [The New Yorker]

2 Responses to “Go See – San Francisco: Luc Tuymans Retrospective at SFMOMA through May 2, 2010”

  1. Chrissy Says:

    Love love love Luc Tuymans work! So inspired..

  2. ARTIFICE Says:

    I saw this exhibit with my mother. She was a painter in New York, during the post-war period, while all of the Abstract Expressionists were working, she was in art school. She is 89 years young, and she enjoyed this exhibit very much. Its elegant, spare, controversial, and a very modern refreshment of the idea of painting. Very inspiring. Go!

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