Luc Tuymans

This exhibition marks the first U.S. retrospective of paintings by Belgian contemporary artist Luc Tuymans—and is the most comprehensive presentation of his art to date. One of the most significant painters working today, Tuymans (b. 1958) draws on the historical traditions of northern European art and the more recent heritage of photography, cinema, and television. He frequently explores issues of history and memory, as in works that address the lingering effects of World War II, the postcolonial situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (a former Belgian colony), and the global aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. 

Installation view of Luc Tuymans, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago October 2, 2010 - January 9, 2011; Photography Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago / Photographer, Nathan Keay

Tuymans treats genres such as still life, landscape, and portraiture with the scale and gravity once reserved for grand history painting—and he might even be said to have reinvented history painting for the present day. Tuymans’s approach to painting is often similar to a montage in filmmaking, as one image relates to another and additional meaning is conveyed by the works’ proximity to each other. Tuymans bases his images on photographic source materials, many of which are on view in the exhibition. His tendency to work in series and at an ever-larger scale also aligns his work with current installation and site-specific art. Yet Tuymans’s steadfast commitment to painting—specifically, to the historical medium of oil paint—demonstrates his insistence that this art form can still grapple with the most compelling ideas of our time.

Luc Tuymans is cocurated by Madeleine Grynsztejn, Pritzker Director of the MCA Chicago, and Helen Molesworth, Chief Curator of the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. The MCA Chicago presentation is coordinated by Julie Rodrigues Widholm, Pamela Alper Associate Curator.

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Project funding

Luc Tuymans is organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Wexner Center for the Arts, The Ohio State University, Columbus.

Generous support is provided by Bruce and Martha Atwater. Additional support is provided by Carla Emil and Rich Silverstein, and Flanders House, the new cultural forum for Flanders (Belgium) in the United States.

Lead support for the Chicago presentation is provided by the Harris Family Foundation in memory of Bette and Neison Harris: Caryn and King Harris, Katherine Harris, Toni and Ron Paul, Pam and Joe Szokol, Linda and Bill Friend, and Stephanie and John Harris.

Major support is generously provided by Ken and Anne Griffin and Helen and Sam Zell.

Additional support is provided by Neil G. Bluhm; the Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson Foundation; Andrea and Jim Gordon, The Edgewater Funds; the Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation; Sylvia Neil and Daniel Fischel; and Barbara Bluhm Kaul and Don Kaul./p>

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