The Menil Collection, 9780300196443, 128pp.
Publication Date: November 26, 2013
Luc Tuymans (b. 1958) is a painter engaged with “figuration,” using imagery that he reworks in a critical or self-critical way. He combines images from various sources—photographs, film stills, mirror images—with a spare palette, unexpected cropping, and blurring to reinforce the painted image’s status as a replica. Perhaps more than any other genre, portraiture allows Tuymans to explore the balance between revealing and concealing, and to comment on history and its perpetrators.
Portraits. Luc Tuymans presents 35 paintings from bodies of work ranging over the artist’s entire career. Most seem conventional portraits —Himmler, 1997/98, A Flemish Intellectual, 1995—but others, such as Bloodstains, 1993, and Fingers, 1995, exhibit the artist’s elliptical approach to re-presentation. Tuymans’s canvases are placed in counterpoint to his selections from the Menil Collection: masks, statuary, and paintings from African, ancient Mediterranean, and Native American cultures, as well as European figurative works. The assembly explores such themes as death and memorials, ritual or religion, power, evildoers and altruism.