Monday, February 1, 2010

Luc Tuymans opening tomorrow at SFMOMA

Luc Tuymans, The Secretary of State, 2005; oil on canvas; 18 x 24 1/4 in. (45.7 x 61.5 cm); Collection the Museum of Modern Art, New York, promised gift of David and Monica Zwirner; courtesy David Zwirner, New York; © Luc Tuymans

The first U.S. retrospective of the work of Belgian contemporary artist Luc Tuymans — and the most comprehensive presentation of his work to date—will be on view at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) from February 6 through May 2, 2010, in its only West Coast presentation.

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. 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. 

Tuymans draws on a whole variety of media, including traditional European to make his closely cropped, close-up looks at faces and landscapes, both interior and exterior. His comment from an 2009 interview with Gareth Harris (The Art Newspaper), is intriguing, "My ultimate aim is to detach myself completely and look at my works as a spectator would but that is a dream." If nothing else, he is articulate. The show is preceded by a whole marching band of praise but I'll wait until I see the work in person before I decide. It's probably no surprise to viewers of modern art that it's dangerous to believe the hype until you look at the work. In fact, it's dangerous to even read the press release until after you see the work; try to look with a fresh, innocent eye and leave the critical analysis until later.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art • February 6 to May 2, 2010

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