Dallas Museum of Art Presents First U.S. Retrospective of Painter Luc Tuymans

Exclusive to the DMA, Six Additional Works on View from Local Collections

 The first U.S. retrospective of Belgian artist Luc Tuymans opens at the Dallas Museum of Art on June 6 and will be on view through September 5, 2010. The Los Angeles Times called this most comprehensive presentation of Tuymans’s work to date “remarkable,” with the Wall Street Journal proclaiming Luc Tuymans “one of the art world's brightest stars.” This nationally acclaimed exhibition, jointly organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Wexner Center for the Arts, spans every phase of the artist’s career and features approximately 75 key paintings from 1978 to the present.

Exclusive to the Dallas presentation, six additional works by the artist from both the Museum’s collections and on loan from local collectors have been installed in the first room of the Hoffman Galleries.

“It is particularly fitting that the first U.S. retrospective of paintings by Tuymans should be presented in Dallas,” said Bonnie Pitman, The Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art. “Not only because the Museum and the Dallas community have in a few short years assembled an impressive collection of the artist’s work, but also because of the Museum’s ongoing commitment to presenting exhibitions that explore the history of painting in a contemporary context.”

“Luc Tuymans paintings are at once seductive and challenging,” stated Jeffrey Grove, The Hoffman Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art and the coordinating curator of the Dallas presentation. “His muted, even chilly palette belies the fierceness with which he approaches his work and his subject matter. Working in a vaguely representational manner, Tuymans is not merely interested in a notional language of narrative painting; rather he seems to be investigating how painting itself could even dare to address the disruption and trauma of modern history.”

Luc Tuymans (born 1958) is considered by many to be one of the most significant painters working today, and his distinctive visual style and approach to issues of history and memory have influenced an entire generation of younger artists. Tuymans “shakes up notions of portraiture in particular and painting in general,” said art critic Christopher Knight. “He wants you to see with your brain.” Interested in the aftereffects of some of the most traumatic events of the last and present century and their representation in the mass media, Tuymans uses a muted palette to create paintings that are at once sumptuous and subtle, enigmatic and disarmingly stark.

Born and raised in Antwerp, where he continues to live and work, Tuymans draws on the historical traditions of Northern European painting as well as photography, cinema, and television. He 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. Whether interiors, landscapes, or figural representations, his works might initially suggest relatively innocuous depictions of everyday life, but there is almost always another meaning lurking beneath their surface. Like veiled memories, Tuymans’s paintings oscillate between coherence and illegibility, challenging viewers’ certainty about not only what they are looking at but also how they should be looking.

Perhaps best known for his early work on the Holocaust, the artist has turned more recently to such topics as the postcolonial history of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the dramatic turn of world events after 9/11, and the role of institutional religion in an increasingly secular world. These series have led Tuymans to a sustained investigation of the realms of the pathological and the conspiratorial. Throughout, he has remained committed to representing the unrepresentable in order to make viewers recognize their role as spectators—and often unwilling accomplices—to history.

“Art is not derived from art. Art is derived from reality,” said the artist to the New York Times.

Tuymans treats genres including still life, landscape, and portraiture with the same scale and gravity once reserved for grand history painting. Indeed, Tuymans may be said to have reinvented history painting for the present day, using moments from the recent past to shed light on the fragile nature of events. In depicting contemporary scenarios through this traditional painting genre, he also explores disengagement from current realities and the ways in which the contemporary experience is often dramatically mediated by both technology and longstanding cultural narratives.

Luc Tuymans is organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Wexner Center for the Arts, The Ohio State University, Columbus. The retrospective is cocurated by Madeleine Grynsztejn, Pritzker Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and Helen Molesworth, Chief Curator of The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. Jeffrey Grove, The Hoffman Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art, is the curator of the Dallas presentation of Luc Tuymans. The exhibition concludes its national tour at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.

An audio tour for Luc Tuymans, produced by SFMOMA and highlighting works in the exhibition, can be accessed by visitors on Wi-Fi enabled smartphones and media players at DallasMuseumofArt.mobi.

The exhibition catalogue ($60 hardcover; $35 softcover)—coproduced by SFMOMA and the Wexner Center for the Arts in association with Distributed Art Publishers, Inc.—forms the most comprehensive volume on the artist to date, with original essays by Helen Molesworth; Bill Horrigan, director of the Media Arts Department at the Wexner Center for the Arts; Joseph Leo Koerner, professor of art history and architecture at Harvard University; and Ralph Rugoff, director of The Hayward at Southbank Centre in London; as well as a joint introduction by the co-curators Grynsztejn and Molesworth. The extensive illustrations are accompanied by text entries that illuminate the painter’s primary subjects and themes.

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; and SFMOMA’s Collectors Forum.

The presentation in Dallas is made possible by TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art, an annual fundraising event that jointly benefits amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, and the Dallas Museum of Art. Additional support provided by the Contemporary Art Fund through the gifts of an anonymous donor, Arlene and John Dayton, Laura and Walter Elcock, Amy and Vernon Faulconer, Nancy and Tim Hanley, Marguerite Steed Hoffman, Allen and Kelli Questrom, Cindy and Howard Rachofsky, Deedie and Rusty Rose, Gayle and Paul Stoffel, and Sharon and Michael Young and by the Donor Circle membership program through a leadership gift from Donna M. Wilhelm. Air transportation provided by American Airlines.

About the Dallas Museum of Art
Located in the vibrant Arts District of downtown Dallas, Texas, the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) ranks among the leading art institutions in the country and is distinguished by its innovative exhibitions and groundbreaking educational programs. At the heart of the Museum and its programs are its encyclopedic collections, which encompass more than 24,000 works and span 5,000 years of history, representing a full range of world cultures. Established in 1903, the Museum today welcomes more than 600,000 visitors annually and acts as a catalyst for community creativity, engaging people of all ages and backgrounds with a diverse spectrum of programming, from exhibitions and lectures to concerts, literary readings and dramatic and dance presentations.

The Dallas Museum of Art is supported in part by the generosity of Museum members and donors and by the citizens of Dallas through the City of Dallas/Office of Cultural Affairs and the Texas Commission on the Arts.