Luc Tuymans

Orfeas Katsoulis | Jul 20, 2023

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Luc Tuymans (Mortsel, 1958) is a Belgian painter. He works in Antwerp and is married to Carla Arocha, an artist from Venezuela. Tuymans is an important figure in the generation of European figurative painters who achieved fame at a time when many believed that an ancient medium such as painting was no longer relevant because of the new digital age.

Tuymans is known for his paintings that explore our relationship with history and confront us with our ability to apparently ignore it. Much of Tuymans' work deals with moral complexity, specifically the coexistence of "good" and "evil. His subjects range from major historical events such as World War II and the Holocaust to the seemingly unimportant or banal, such as wallpaper, Christmas decorations or everyday objects.

The artist's figurative paintings contain little color and are created with quick brush strokes with wet paint. Tuymans draws inspiration from photographs and film images he obtains from the media as well as his own photographs and drawings. He uses photographic methods such as cropping, framing, sequencing and extreme close-up. His works are often intentionally out of focus; the blurry effect is deliberately created with paint strokes, it is not the result of a so-called wiping away technique.

Formal and conceptual contradictions are recurring elements in the work of Tuymans, who says of it, "Although the decay must be seen in the way the painting is made, making it also creates pleasure, a kind of caress of the canvas. This comment articulates how Tuymans semantically shapes the philosophical content of his work. His often allegorical titles add another layer of imagery to his work, one that goes beyond the visible. The painting Gas Chamber (1986) illustrates this use of titles to evoke associations in the viewer's mind. Meaning is something that is never fixed in his work; his paintings encourage thought. A related feature of Tuymans' work is that he often works in sequences, a method in which one image evokes another, allowing images to be formulated and reformulated ad infinitum. Images are repeatedly analyzed and filtered, and the artist makes a large number of drawings, photocopies and watercolors in preparation for his oil paintings. Each painting, however, is ultimately finished in a single day.

Luc Tuymans was born June 14, 1958, in Mortsel, near Antwerp, to a Flemish father and a Dutch mother. During World War II, his mother's family joined the Dutch Resistance and hid refugees, while some members of his father's family reportedly sympathized with Nazi ideology. This issue regularly surfaced in family conversations and gave rise to moral questions and feelings of guilt. The subject became a source of fascination and anxiety, and later played an important role in Tuymans' paintings.

That Tuymans had an interest in art became apparent at an early age, and his talent was first recognized during a summer vacation in Zundert, where he won a drawing contest. He later said that this event gave him an idea of which path to follow. When he was eight or nine, his uncle took him to the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague, where he saw a painting by Mondrian. In a conversation some time later, he explained: "Looking at that abstract painting was my first experience of art... I felt the magic of art in it.... I did understand the monumentality of that work.'

Tuymans began his art studies when he was 18, at the St. Luke's Institute in Brussels (1976-1979). During this period, he traveled to Budapest, where he saw El Greco's paintings at the Museum of Fine Arts. In an interview in 2020, Tuymans explained that these paintings were a shock to him and that El Greco continues to fascinate him even today. He continued his studies at the École nationale supérieure des arts visuels de La Cambre in Brussels (1979-1980) and then moved on to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp (1980-1982), where he traded painting for filmmaking. After his art studies, Tuymans enrolled at the Free University of Brussels for an academic degree in Art History (1982-1986).

Early works, 1972-1994

During the crucial first phase of Tuymans' artistic development, his painting method evolved rapidly. According to the catalogue raisonné, he produced nearly 200 paintings on canvas or on wood during this period.

His first known painting dates from 1972 and the first painting publicly exhibited, he made in 1977 and was titled Self-Portrait. He was a student at the time, participated with the work in the annual National Competition ("Line-Color-Square") of the Municipal Credit of Belgium (now Belfius) and won the first prize.

In 1979-1980 Tuymans collaborated with Marc Schepers on two local projects entitled Morguen. They asked families in an Antwerp neighborhood for historical family photographs, which the artists in turn supplemented with their own documentation of that neighborhood. The following year they published the project in the Tijdschrift voor levende Volkskunst, in the form of a diary, following the example of the historical journal Volksfoto. Six months later, they set up a second photo project. This time they concentrated on the working-class neighborhood around the Sint-Andrieskerk in Antwerp.

Between 1980 and 1985, Tuymans stopped painting and began experimenting with film. Among other things, he made Feu d'artifice and made plans for a semi-documentary feature film, but it was never realized. Some of his filmed fragments, however, would later serve as inspiration for paintings.

When Tuymans began painting again in 1985, he changed his technique, and since then he has never worked on a painting for more than one day. 1978 Tuymans focused his paintings on the European memory of World War II, countering Adorno's famous question about the impossibility of art after the Holocaust and the collapse of any coherent tradition in painting. One of his works from this period is a small 1986 painting of the gas chamber in Dachau entitled Gas Chamber. The starting point for this painting was a watercolor he had made on the spot. As J.S. Marcus of The Wall Street Journal wrote, this painting "simplified the manner of painting ... flattened the perspective, softened the color and direction of the composition ... To save the painting he almost makes it disappear. Other paintings dating from this period include the 1988 four-panel Die Zeit, in which he combines a portrait of Nazi leader Reinhard Heydrich with two spinach tablets and a cityscape, and the 1989 painting Die Wiedergutmachung, which depicts the eyes of gypsy children on whom the Nazis had conducted experiments.

In the late 1970s, Tuymans also began to paint portraits of himself, as well as imaginary portraits, anonymous persons and historical and public figures. At first glance, most of these images appear to be traditional portraits; the approach is emotionless and not psychological. His portraits take away all personality, making the body look like an empty shell and the face like a mask. Another example of these figurative portraits is Der diagnostische Blick, a series of ten paintings from 1992, based on clinical images of bodies and body parts he found in a medical textbook on physical diseases.

As Meyer-Hermann wrote in the catalogue raisonné, the artist first clarified his theoretical approach in a proposal for a group exhibition - which ultimately did not materialize - entitled Virus of the Vanities. In it, he defines key terms and develops a dialectic between the "virus" as representative of the "cult" and "vanity" as a projection of "culture. He also juxtaposes the 'anecdotal' (as in a portrait or still life) with the 'symbolic' (as in representations of time or death). To reinforce his ideas, Tuymans refers to nine of his paintings from 1978-1990.

The year 1992 marked the international breakthrough for Tuymans' career. Several solo exhibitions of his work (at Kunsthalle Bern, for example) and his participation in documenta IX in Kassel, with Jan Hoet as curator, increased his international fame.

Tuymans' first exhibition in North America, Superstition, took place in 1994 at the David Zwirner Gallery (larger or other exhibition of the same title later it was also on view at the Art Gallery of York University in Toronto, The Renaissance Society of the University of Chicago and London's ICA Institute of Contemporary Arts). The exhibition reflected humanity's skepticism and spiritual indifference evident in our attitudes toward recent historical events.


Since 1995, Tuymans has gained increasing international fame. He participated in more than 140 group exhibitions and held 47 solo exhibitions in Europe, North America and Asia. Between 1995 and 2006 he produced 198 works that he classified as paintings, several murals and tapestries.

The first exhibition in the United States took place in 1995 at "The Renaissance Society" in Chicago.

His exhibition Heimat, which took place in 1995 at the Antwerp art gallery Zeno X and the Musée des Beaux Arts in Nantes, was a reaction to political events in Flanders and took Flemish nationalism to task. Exhibited works, all painted in 1995, included The Flag, A Flemish Village, the Flemish monument IJzertoren, a portrait of Flemish writer Ernest Claes titled A Flemish Intellectual, and Home Sweet Home. Several paintings from the Heimat exhibition were featured the following year (1996-1997) in the exhibition Face à l'histoire at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. This expo was devoted to the response of modern artists to major historical and political events of the past sixty years. In a 2014 interview with De Witte Raaf about the Heimat series, Tuymans expressed his aversion to the separatist, far-right Flemish political party the Vlaams Blok (nvdr today's Vlaams Belang), which had achieved its best election result ever in Antwerp in 1994. On that, he said, "I was ashamed to be from Antwerp!

Tuymans' exhibition Heritage, which took place at the David Zwirner Gallery in 1996, consisted of ten new paintings of the same title, all inspired by the mood prevailing in the U.S. after the Oklahoma City bombing. The series consists of normal, almost stereotypical American images: a painting of two baseball caps (Heritage I), Mount Rushmore (Heritage VII), a working man (Heritage VIII), a portrait and a birthday cake (Heritage IX). The series also includes a portrait of Joseph Milteer, a wealthy member of the Ku Klux Klan (Heritage VI).

In 2000, Tuymans attracted attention with his series of political paintings Mwana Kitoko (Pretty White Boy), inspired by King Baudouin's state visit to Congo in the 1950s, which were exhibited at the David Zwirner Gallery in 2000 and in the Belgian pavilion at the Venice Biennale the following year.

When Documenta 11 in 2002 focused on works of art with a political or social message, many expected Tuymans to present new work created in response to the attacks of 9

In the summer of 2004, Tuymans became the first living Belgian artist to have an exhibition at the Tate Modern, and in 2006 the Museu Serralves in Porto devoted a major solo exhibition to Tuymans' work.

As of 2007

Since 2007, Tuymans participated in more than 200 group exhibitions and mounted more than 30 solo exhibitions in Europe, North America and Asia. During this period (2007-2019), he created 180 works that he classified as paintings, as well as several murals and tapestries.

Under the title Les revenants, Tuymans presented a series of new works about the Jesuits whose spiritual power fascinated Tuymans at the Zeno X gallery in 2007. The same year saw the retrospective exhibition Luc Tuymans: Wenn der Frühling kommt at the Műcsarnok Kunsthalle in Budapest (2007-2008). This solo exhibition traveled to the Haus der Kunst in Munich and, under the title Come and See, to the Zachęta National Gallery of Art in Warsaw. Each museum exhibited a different set of paintings.

In 2008, Tuymans created a series of works exploring the "Disneyfication" of consumer society. This series was exhibited under the title The Management of Magic at the David Zwirner Gallery. It was later presented under a different title ("Luc Tuymans") at several museums in North America: the Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State University in Columbus (2009), the SFMOMA, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2009-2010), the DMA, Dallas Museum of Art (2010) and the MCA, Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago (2010-2011). She then moved to her final stop: BOZAR, Palace of Fine Arts in Brussels (2011), Belgium.

In 2012, Tuymans was invited by Polish artist Mirosław Bałka to participate in a project in Otwock, the town where Bałka had grown up. The purpose of the project was to interpret the city's history through works of art scattered in more than 20 locations. Tuymans created the painting Die Nacht (2012), which refers to Hans-Jürgen Syberberg's 1985 epic film installation on German history. During the second season in 2012, this painting hung in Bałka's nursery. Tuymans also installed hundreds of black balloons in the ruins of Zofiówka, a former hospital for people with mental health problems. In 1940, the building was part of the Otwock ghetto and in 1942, during the Nazi occupation of Poland, its residents starved to death, were shot or sent to Treblinka concentration camp.

For his major retrospective exhibition Intolerance, staged by the QM Gallery Al Riwaq in Doha in 2015-2016, Tuymans created new work under the title The Arena I-VI. These paintings depict violence in 1942. 'Through visual similarities to Francisco Goya's El 3 de mayo en Madrid (1808) (The Third of May in Madrid) of 1814, Tuymans' strong exposure of central figures surrounded by a blackened, unkempt vignette suggests a diaspora, a revolution or a restless, static crowd. There is a sense of pent-up aggression lurking beneath the surface of the ethnically ambiguous and androgynous forms.'

A plagiarism lawsuit by the artist began on August 12, 2014. De Standaard photographer Katrijn Van Giel claimed that Tuymans used a photograph of her hand of LDD politician Jean-Marie Dedecker for the 2011 painting A Belgian politician, now owned by Eric Lefkofsky. The submitting party initiated the copyright strike action before the civil court of first instance in Antwerp. On Jan. 20, 2015, a Belgian civil court found Tuymans guilty of plagiarism. Tuymans appealed the ruling; he claimed the portrait was a parody - a criticism of Belgian conservatism. In October 2015, he and Van Giel reached an amicable settlement between themselves, without court intervention. British newspaper The Guardian takes issue with the artist Tuymans on this one. The newspaper argues that he never makes a photorealistic reproduction of the original but that his work demonstrates a career-long questioning of all images. Following the uproar surrounding the trial and conviction, a broad discussion about plagiarism emerged. This culminated in an exhibition whose central question was "What is plagiarism? Some 125 artists each gave their interpretation around the theme. Especially the teased work A Belgian politician was frequently reworked by other artists who each gave it their own accents. In early September 2015, the photographer and the painter reached an amicable settlement. No amount was mentioned.

Works on paper

Drawing is already an integral part of Tuymans' artistic practice. Sketches, watercolors and other small-scale works form the basis of his oeuvre: for him, they are a way of thinking through an idea. Important characteristics of Tuymans' approach to art can be found in these preparatory pieces. For example, he voluntarily chooses low-quality materials and incorporates found elements into his pieces. These works are both visual preparations for later paintings and externalizations of thought processes. As Tuymans said in a 1997 interview with Josef Helfenstein, "Drawing is especially important because it allows me to become mentally involved in the work and the image. What is important for me is the idea of thinking while I draw, especially with small drawings. It helps to be in control of everything'. At another point in the interview, Tuymans explains that he usually draws from memory and that he finds it better not to start drawing immediately when he sees something, but he draws "on the basis of a fragmentary memory. Later in the 1997 interview with Helfenstein, he goes into more detail when he describes that he usually draws something after seeing it, "on the basis of a fragmentary memory. Each drawing is more than a visual document: it is part of a broader thought process. The first comprehensive collection of Tuymans' drawings and other works on paper from 1975-1996 was featured in an exhibition that traveled successively to the Kunsthalle Bern in Bern, the Berkeley Art Museum in Berkeley, and the CAPC Musée d'art contemporain in Bordeaux (in 1997-1998).


Since the mid-1990s, Tuymans has created about 50 murals in function of a specific location, five permanent and the rest temporary. Unlike the permanent murals, Tuymans' other frescoes are temporary installations made for exhibitions. His technique involves applying either acrylic paint or wall paint directly to the existing wall surface. On a rare occasion, he also creates textile murals. These are based on drawings that are scanned and produced mechanically. The murals are always related to the "raw space" and, as he told in an interview, make the artist feel freer: "When I work on a wall, I feel much freer than on canvas.

Tuymans created his first permanent mural in 1995, at Café Alberto in Antwerp. This was a larger version of the painting Superstition. In 2007, Tuymans painted a permanent mural based on Bloodstains (1993) on the ceiling of the former Ring Theater's ballroom. That same year, the building was taken over by Troubleyn

For the launch of the cultural website, Tuymans created a temporary mural in mid-April 2008 in Antwerp's Beddenstraat. For this, the artist used a work from the Exhibit series, which depicts copulating monkeys. As an experiment, a hidden camera filmed the passers-by. Of nearly three thousand passersby, only four percent took notice of the mural. The artist's response: "Art is the transmission of ideas, even if only for a few seconds.

In 2013, Tuymans painted two permanent murals at the Staatsschauspiel Dresden on the building's main staircase in Theaterstrasse, based on the paintings Peaches (2012) and Technicolor (2012). Arena (2017) is the most recent mural created by the artist, for the Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent. This work is a fresco composed of three parts and located at the end of a completed museum room.


The first mosaic Tuymans made was Dead Skull, 2010, commissioned by MAS, Museum aan de Stroom, as a permanent installation on the museum square at the Hanzestedenplaats in Antwerp. It is a 40 m2 stone mosaic reminiscent of Tuymans' painting of the same name he made in 2002, which in turn refers to a plaque dedicated to the 16th-century Antwerp painter Quinten Metsys, which can be found on the façade of Antwerp's Cathedral of Our Lady. The painting was first transformed into a grid of 488 by 488 pixels. Based on that, a specially designed digital-conversion technique was used to create a mosaic with 96,569 stones of 11 different colors. The installation began in the winter of 2009 and was completed in the summer of 2010. When you look at Dead Skull on the first floor, you can hardly recognize anything in it, but the higher you go in the MAS, the more clearly the skull becomes visible.

In 2019, Tuymans created his second mosaic, Schwarzheide, for his exhibition La Pelle at Palazzo Grassi in Venice. This work was executed by Milan-based Fantini Mosaici and is based on Tuymans' 1989 oil on canvas of the same name of a German camp of forced laborers. The full image could only be seen from the balustrades overlooking the atrium of Palazzo Grassi. Because of the floods that plagued Venice in February 2020, the mosaic was removed.

Graphic works

Beginning in the late 1980s, Tuymans began experimenting with printmaking. He thus built a graphic oeuvre of some 90 works that, like his paintings, emphasize the transmission and translation of imagery from the mass media. He works with various printing methods: photocopy, inkjet, offset printing, monoprint, screen printing, lithography, etching and silver gelatin printing, and uses unusual mediums, such as wallpaper, safety glass and PVC. As with his paintings, his printed images often appear indistinct or toned down. They are often based on photographs or stills from a film that the artist shoots and re-photographs until many of the original details have disappeared. For example, the four-color set Isabel, Diorama, Scramble, Twenty Seventeen (2017) is based on iPhone photos Tuymans took while painting. The images show an early, unfinished stage of the work. The touches of paint Tuymans applied in the margins of the painting and at the edges of the canvas are included in the etched image.

Most of Tuymans' prints were made in collaboration with master printer Roger Vandaele of Antwerp and Edition Copenhagen.


Tuymans is also a curator. The first exhibition he curated with Narcisse Tordoir was Trouble Spot: Painting in 1999 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp and the NICC, New International Cultural Center in Antwerp. This exhibition featured works by about 50 artists, including Gerhard Richter, Ellsworth Kelly, Raoul De Keyser, Marlene Dumas and Andy Warhol. In an interview with Artzip, Tuymans explained that the idea behind the exhibition was to "explore the limits of painting" and that his approach as curator was to "prioritize the visual to create a dialogue between different works.

In 2002, Tuymans curated Rooms. a Choice by Luc Tuymans at Ruimte Morguen in Antwerp. The next curatorial event took place on Oct. 5, 2006. Then Tuymans organized Sirene

After the Chinese-Flemish exhibition The Forbidden Empire, Tuymans curated The State of Things: Brussels in 2010.

At the 54th International Biennale di Venezia in 2011 Tuymans curated the exhibition Angel Vergara: Feuilleton, at the invitation of Angel Vergara, in the Belgian pavilion and organized A Vision of Central Europe for Bruges Central, the starting point for this exhibition was the difference between the cities of Bruges and Warsaw, as the artist mentioned in an interview "one city came out of World War II relatively unscathed, the other city was completely destroyed, and then carefully rebuilt."

Two years later Tuymans curated The Gap: Selected Abstract Art from Belgium at London's Parasol Unit Foundation for Contemporary Art, and in 2013 he collaborated with Ulrich Bischoff on the exhibition Constable, Delacroix, Friedrich, Goya. A Shock to the Senses at the Albertinum in Dresden. This expo outlined the history of European painting from 1800 to the present and juxtaposed important works from European Romanticism with later, modern and contemporary art. In 2016, he curated the exhibition 11 Artists Against the Wall at Leopoldplaats 5 in Antwerp, as part of Born in Antwerp, and James Ensor by Luc Tuymans at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. The most recent exhibition Tuymans curated was Sanguine

Teaching and lectures

Tuymans was also active in the pedagogical field. In 1994, for example, he was a guest lecturer at the Kunstakademie in Karlsruhe and later at the Dutch Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, where he mentored and influenced budding painters such as Polish artist Paulina Olowska and Serbian-born artist Ivan Grubanov. In 2008, Tuymans accepted the Max Beckmann Foundation chair at the Städelschule in Frankfurt, following in the footsteps of William Kentridge. During this period, he participated in international symposia and conferences and gave interviews and lectures on his work and on painting in general for numerous international universities and museums.

In 1995, he lectured on his work at the University of Chicago and participated in a talk led by curator and writer Hamza Walker. In 2000, together with Carel Blotkamp, Ferdinand van Dieten, Benoît Hermans, Frank Reijnders and Jeroen Stumpel, he participated in the symposium The Persistence of Painting at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten in Amsterdam. At the closing of Tuymans' exhibition Signal at the Hamburger Bahnhof in 2001, a symposium entitled Gesichtsbilder was organized with the artist Eugen Blume (director of the Hamburger Bahnhof), the art historian Anne-Marie Bonnet and Norbert Kampe (director of the memorial and education center of the Haus der Wannzee-Konferenz). At Tuymans' request, the closing symposium was held at the Villa Marlier (the Haus der Wannsee-Konferenz) in Berlin. This former villa of the German businessman Marlier was used by the SS as a guesthouse and conference center from 1941 to 1945. The decision to deport and murder the European Jews was made at this site in 1942.

At the symposium Between Senses, Strukturen und Strategien del Malerei im 20. Jahrhundert, organized in 2002 on the occasion of the exhibition Painting on the Move at the Fondation Beyeler in Basel, Tuymans participated in a panel discussion on the meaning of art in relation to the new media. Moderator was the art historian Beat Wyss and participating in the conversation were the philosopher Hubert Damisch, the art historians Yve-Alain Bois, Bruno Haas and Denys Zacharopoulos, and the artist and art historian Hans-Dieter Huber.

In 2003 Tuymans gave a public lecture at the Kunstverein Hannover, and in 2004 he lectured at the Museo Tamayo in Mexico City (with Gerrit Vermeiren), at the Mauritshuis in The Hague, under the title On Peter Paul Rubens, at deSingel in Antwerp as part of the Curating the Library program, and at the Dresdner Bank in Berlin during the conference Europa eine Seele geben: Berliner Konferen für europaïsche Kulturpolitik.

In 2006 he participated in an artist panel with Brice Marden, Francesco Clemente and Christopher Wool at the MoMA in New York and in 2008 he gave a lecture at the Haus der Kunst in Munich (Luc Tuymans: Arbeit und Praxis) and gave the opening lecture at the Neues Museum Weserburg in Bremen at the symposium Arbeit der Bilder: Die Präzens der Bilde sim Dialog zwischen Psychoanalyse, Philosophie und Kunstwissenschaft.

In 2009, during the Platform Project at Wiels in Brussels, Tuymans participated in the Interdisciplinary Conference at the NCCR, National Centres of Competence in Research in Basel. That same year, he participated in the colloquium Abschied und Gegenstand , and in the Lambert Family Lecture, where he engaged in conversation with T.J. Clark at the Wexner Center in Columbus, Ohio.

In 2010 he participated in the History, Violence, Disquiet symposium held at the MCA, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and in 2011 he held a conversation with Rem Koolhaas, at La Loge in Brussels, entitled Construction Européenne.

In 2012 he was invited to the Frieze Talks and in 2015 he had a conversation with Colin Chinnery at the Talbot Rice Gallery at the University of Edinburgh.

In 2016, Tuymans sparked during the 2015-16 Slade Contemporary Art Lecture Series at the Slade School of Fine Art in London. That same year, he also participated in the roundtable discussion What About Painting Today at LaM, Lille Métropole Musée d'art moderne, d'art contemporain et d'art brut, and had a public conversation with Kerry James Marshall in Montreal.

In 2017 Tuymans lectured at the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst in Zurich, and with Gilane Tawadros at the Royal College of Art in London, and in 2018 he gave a public lecture on Andrzej Wróblewski at the David Zwirner Gallery in London.

Solo exhibitions

Between 1985 and 2006, more than 100 solo exhibitions featuring Luc Tuymans' paintings were organized, including more than 70 international solo exhibitions.

The first exhibition of Tuymans' paintings, for the Belgian Art Review (1985), took place in Ostend, in the vacant swimming pool of the prestigious Thermae Palace. Tuymans chose Ostend because of James Ensor and Leon Spilliaert, two painters who had a great influence on his own artistic development and whose connection with the city gave it a spiritual significance for him. Except for his parents and a handful of friends, few people saw the exhibition. Nevertheless, it was crucial because it was the first time Tuymans saw his work outside his studio. The next public exhibition of Tuymans' work was held in 1988 at Ruimte Morguen in Antwerp, and the first museum exhibitions devoted exclusively to his work were held in 1990, at the PMMK, Provincial Museum of Modern Art in Ostend and at the S.M.A.K., Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst in Ghent. That same year he exhibited for the first time at Zeno X, a gallery with which he still collaborates.

The year 1992 marked the international breakthrough for Tuymans' career. Several major exhibitions of his work (at Kunsthalle Bern, for example) and his participation in Documenta IX increased his international fame. Tuymans concluded this first period of his career in 1993 with a retrospective at the Krefelder Kunstmuseen, in Krefeld, in the two residential houses, Haus Lange and Haus Esters, which had been converted into contemporary art museums. In 1994, his work was exhibited at Portikus in Frankfurt am Main, an expo that traveled on to the David Zwirner Gallery in New York, the artist's gallery in the US. That same year saw a solo exhibition at the Art Gallery of York University in Toronto, which traveled on to The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, to the ICA, Institute of Contemporary Arts in London and to the Goldie Paley Gallery at the Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia.

In 2001, Tuymans represented Belgium at the Venice Biennale and between 2004 and 2008, solo exhibitions dedicated to Tuymans were organized in several places: at the Tate Modern in London (at the MAMCO, Museé d'Art Moderne et Contemporain in Geneva (at the Zachęta National Gallery of Art in Warsaw (2008) and at the Haus der Kunst in Munich (2008).

The artist's first major retrospective in the U.S. opened in September 2009 at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio, and then traveled on to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, to the Dallas Museum of Art and to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. This retrospective also traveled further outside the U.S. to BOZAR, Palace of Fine Arts, in Brussels. In 2009, he organized a solo exhibition at the Wiels Center for Contemporary Art in Forest, Brussels Capital Region. For this exhibition he created a series of twenty new works, called Against the day where the virtual image of the new media, such as reality TV, a photo taken with an iPhone and an online catalog are central. Subsequently, this exhibition was shown at Baibakov Art Projects in Moscow, and the Moderna Museet Malmö in Sweden.

In 2015, the artist held the solo exhibition Intolerance at the QM Gallery Al Riwaq in Doha. In 2019, Tuymans organized an exhibition was about the grim state of the world, called La Pelle. This solo exhibition of 80 paintings from 1986-2019 at Palazzo Grassi in Venice is undoubtedly the most impressive retrospective Luc Tuymans has created to date.

Group exhibitions

Between 1985 and 2016, Tuymans also participated in more than 350 group exhibitions, including more than 300 international ones.

In 1992 werd hij uitgenodigd om voor het eerst tentoon te stellen op Documenta IX in Kassel en in 2002 nam hij deel aan Documenta 11. Werk van Tuymans werd ook opgenomen in groepstentoonstellingen als: Infinite Painting: Contemporary Painting and Global Realism, die plaatsvond in de Villa Manin Centro d'Arte Contemporanea in Codroipo (Fast Forward: Collecties voor het Dallas Museum of Art, in het Dallas Museum of Art (What is Painting? Contemporary Art From the Collection in het MOMA Museum of Modern Art in New York (The Painting of Modern Life in de Hayward Gallery in Londen en in het Kasteel van Rivoli in Turijn (Doing it My Way: Perspectives in Belgian Art in het Museum Küppersmühle für Moderne Kunst in Duisburg (Verzamelen van collecties: Highlights from the Permanent Collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles in het Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles (Mapping the Studio: Kunstenaars uit de François Pinault Collection in het Palazzo Grassi in Venetië (en Compass in Hand: Selections from The Judith Rothschild Foundation Contemporary Drawings Collection in het MOMA Museum of Modern Art in New York (2009-2010).

A comprehensive Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, edited by art historian Eva Meyer-Hermann and published by the David Zwirner Gallery and Yale University Press, is forthcoming in 2019. Tuymans' paintings from 1972 - 564 in all - are divided into three volumes. Volume I contains the 186 paintings executed on canvas or wood between 1972 and 1994. Volume II contains 198 paintings on canvas or, on occasion, polyester or vinyl from 1995-2006, and Volume III compiles 180 works on canvas from 2007-2018.

Tuymans is represented in Antwerp by the Zeno X gallery and in New York by the David Zwirner Gallery. According to an article published by Artprice in 2019, 50% of his auctioned works are sold in the United States and 36% in the United Kingdom. In May 2005, Sculpture (2000), from Tuymans' series Mwana Kitoko (Beautiful white boy) sold for a record price at Christie's in New York. In 2005, he ranked 184 in the "Top 500" selling artists, a ranking compiled by Artprice. Tuymans' auction record dates back to the prestigious May 2013 contemporary art sale at Christie's in New York, where Rumour (2001) unexpectedly attracted attention. It became the best auction result ever for a contemporary Belgian artist (i.e. born after 1945). Since then, higher and higher sums have been paid for his paintings. As a result, in 2016 Tuymans landed in place 60 on ArtReview's list of 100 most influential people in the art world. In 2019, Tuymans gained a lot of attention with his exhibition La Pelle at Palazzo Grassi in Venice. The market responded accordingly and his works sold on the secondary art market for even higher amounts; it became a record year for the artist. In 2015, Tuymans ranked 168 in the "Top 500" contemporary artists 2014

In 2007 Tuymans received the honorary distinction of Commander in the Order of Leopold from King Albert II of Belgium, in 2013 he became a foreign honorary member of The American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York and of the Akademie der Künste in Berlin. In 2019, he received the Medal of Honor from the International Congress of Contemporary Painting (ICOCEP) in Porto, Portugal. Tuymans has received several academic honorary degrees, including an honorary doctorate of general cultural merit awarded in 2015 by the Royal College of Art in London, an honorary doctorate awarded in 2014 by the University of Arts in Poznań and an honorary doctorate of general cultural merit awarded in 2006 by the University of Antwerp. In 2008, Tuymans received the award from the Max Beckmann Foundation at the Städelschule in Frankfurt. In 2000, he was a finalist for the Vincent van Gogh Biennial Award for Contemporary Art in Europe and won the Coutts Contemporary Art Foundation Award in Zurich. In 2013, Tuymans was awarded the Flemish Culture Prize for Visual Arts, and in 2020, the Ultima for General Cultural Merit. In 1998, he received the biennial Blanlin-Evrart Culture Prize from the Catholic University of Leuven. For his artistic contribution in the fight against AIDS, he received the award of excellence from AmfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research Awards, in 2013.

Tuymans was born on June 14, 1958 in Mortsel, near Antwerp. To this day, he still lives in Antwerp. His father, Antoon Tuymans, was a Belgian and his mother, Elisabeth Dam, was Dutch. While working on his first American exhibition at The Renaissance Society in Chicago in 1995, he met Venezuelan artist Carla Arocha and four years later, in 1999, they married.

Written by the artist (selection)


  1. Luc Tuymans
  2. Luc Tuymans
  3. (en) Luc Tuymans: Corporate. 6 November - 21 December 2010. David Zwirner Gallery (2010). Gearchiveerd op 13 november 2010. Geraadpleegd op 11 juli 202011 juli 2020.
  4. (en) Lindquist, Greg, Luc Tuymans. The Brooklyn Rail (mei 2010). Gearchiveerd op 22 februari 2020. Geraadpleegd op 22 februari 2020.
  5. a et b White Roger, The contemporaries travels in the 21st-century art world, vol. 1, New York, Bloomsbury, 2016 (ISBN 9781620400951, OCLC 1124364481), p. 173
  6. ^ "Luc Tuymans: Forever, The Management of Magic" (PDF). New York: David Zwirner Gallery. 14 February – 22 March 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 March 2014.
  7. ^ a b Roger, White (2016). The contemporaries travels in the 21st-century art world. Vol. 1. New York: Bloomsbury. p. 173. ISBN 9781620400951. OCLC 1124364481.
  8. ^ "Exhibitions – The Rumour, 5 September — 13 October 2001". London: White Cube. 1 March 2020. Archived from the original on 1 March 2020.
  9. ^ a b c d "Luc Tuymans". Tate Modern. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  10. ^ Mullins, Charlotte (2008). Painting People: Figure Painting Today. New York: D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers. p. 150. ISBN 9781933045832. OCLC 216938984.
  11. Rückschau: Bildermacher des Bösen - die erste große Retrospektive des belgischen Malers Luc Tuymans in Europa (Memento vom 30. November 2011 im Internet Archive)

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