Belgian artist Luc Tuymans is widely credited with having contributed to the revival of painting in the 1990s. His sparsely colored, figurative works speak in a quiet, restrained, and at times unsettling voice, and are typically painted from pre-existing imagery including photographs and video stills. His canvases, in turn, become third-degree abstractions from reality and often appear slightly out of focus, as if covered by a thin veil or painted from a failing memory. There is almost always a darker undercurrent to what at first appear to be innocuous subjects: Tuymans has, in this way, explored diverse and sensitive topics including the Holocaust, the effects of images from 9/11, the ambiguous utopia of the Disney empire, the colonial history of his native Belgium, and the phenomenon of the corporation.
Born in 1958 in Mortsel, near Antwerp, Belgium, Tuymans was one of the first artists to be represented by David Zwirner. He joined the gallery in 1994 and had his first American solo exhibition that same year. In 2012, Luc Tuymans: Allo! Inaugurated the gallery’s first European location on 24 Grafton Street in Mayfair, London. Luc Tuymans: The Summer is Over marked his tenth solo show with the gallery, which was on view in New York January 10–February 9, 2013. The show was accompanied by a publication that features a detailed overview of each of the artist’s exhibitions with the gallery since 1994, a conversation between the artist and David Zwirner, and interviews by Lynne Tillman with Madeliene Grynsztejn, Brice Marden, Helen Molesworth, Peter Schjeldahl and Robert Storr. Tuymans is also represented by Zeno X Gallery, where he has been exhibiting by 1990.
A solo exhibition of the artist’s portraits is on display at the Menil Collection in Houston, Texas. His work was recently the subject of a retrospective co-organized by the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. It traveled from 2010 to 2011 to the Dallas Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; and the Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels. Previous major solo exhibitions include those organized by the Moderna Museet Malmö, Sweden, in 2009, and Tate Modern, London, in 2004. Other recent solo exhibitions include the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo in Málaga, Spain (2011); Haus der Kunst, Munich; Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw (both 2008); Mücsarnok Kunsthalle, Budapest (2007); Museu Serralves, Porto, Portugal; and the Musée d’art modern et contemporain, Geneva (both 2006).
Tuymans was recently the curator of an exhibition at the Albertinum in Dresden, titled Constable, Delacroix, Friedrich, Goya. A Shock to the Senses (March 16–July 14, 2013). In 2009, he organized The State of Things: Brussels/Beijing at the Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, which traveled to the National Art Museum of China, Beijing, and A Vision of Central Europe at the Brugge Centraal, Bruges, Belgium, in 2010. A catalogue raisonné of the artist’s paintings is currently being prepared by David Zwirner in collaboration with Studio Luc Tuymans. Compiled and edited by art historian Eva Meyer-Hermann, the catalogue raisonné will illustrate and document approximately 500 paintings by the artist from 1975 to the present day.
The artist represented Belgium at the 49th Venice Biennale (2001) and his works are featured in museum collections worldwide, including The Art Institute of Chicago; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Dallas Museum of Art; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and Tate Gallery, London. Tuymans recently donated the portrait of Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands to the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. He lives and works in Antwerp.