The Heritage IX

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  • Provenance

    David Zwirner, London
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    New York, David Zwirner, Luc Tuymans: The Heritage, 20 September - 19 October 1996

  • Catalogue Essay

    'I wanted to make my paintings look old from the start, which is important because they are about memory’ (Tuymans, quoted in R. Storr, 'A Worst Case Scenario’, pp. 13-39, Luc Tuymans: Mwana Kotoko, Beautiful White Man, exh. cat. from 2001 Venice Biennale, Ghent, 2001, p. 21.)

    Luc Tuymans painted The Heritage IX in 1996, and it was shown alongside nine other numbered works in a small exhibition at the David Zwirner Gallery in New York. This exhibition, which received critical acclaim, was a breakthrough for Tuymans, launching him convincingly onto the international scene. In particular, it marked the point that the American critical world began to pay him closer attention. Of the ten paintings that formed The Heritage series and exhibition, two were acquired by American museums at the time: The Heritage I is in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and The Heritage IV belongs to the Museum of Modern Art, New York in the same year. Another picture from the series, The Heritage X, was stolen from the gallery—arguably another uninvited form of flattery.

    Tuymans’ paintings often take photographs as their sources. Placed in a new context, at a further remove from whatever situation saw them being taken in the first place, these gradually acquire and lose meanings, transforming and mutating. As he has explained, ‘I deal primarily with existing images in my work in order to demonstrate the inadequacy of memory’ (Tuymans, quoted in S. Folie, ‘Luc Tuymans’, pp. 118-21, “Dear Painter, Paint Me…”: Painting the Figure since Late Picabia, exh. cat., Paris, 2002, pp. 119-20.) This clearly lay at the heart of the series of paintings to which The Heritage IX belongs: subjects included photos of the American flag, hunting caps and Mount Rushmore, as well as a pail, a car and a man at work. In the case of The Heritage IX, the subject matter is in fact a birthday cake, but Tuymans has managed to present it as a deliberately bleached, flawed image.

    In The Heritage IX, Tuymans uses the dark paint at the edges, which serve as a frame around the supposed photo source, as well as a hint of glare on the gloss of its surface, to emphasise the degrees of separation that distance us from the original subject matter. Tuymans’ own painting practice can be seen as a further development, in both conceptual and photographic terms: he usually limits himself to painting his works in 24 hours, limiting their ‘exposure.’ In The Heritage IX, Tuymans has brought to light the complexities of this multi-layered process of removes by creating a work that is deliberately evasive in its appearance. As Robert Storr has said of Tuymans’ work: ‘When you don’t quite know what’s there but you can feel the undertow, that’s when I think Luc is at his very best’ (Robert Storr, quoted in L. Tillman, ‘Robert Storr in conversation with Lynne Tillman’, pp. 28-41, T. Simoens & D. Wingate, ed., Luc Tuymans: Exhibitions at David Zwirner, Antwerp, 2013, p. 29.) That undertow was indeed particularly evident in the entire series of works in The Heritage. In these, Tuymans probed some of the complexities not only of memory as a general theme, but also of history. He had been struck by the atmosphere in the United States in 1995, the year before The Heritage IX was painted, when the nation had been shaken by the Oklahoma City bombing. In the immediate aftermath, many assumed that foreign terrorists were to blame, yet ultimately the culprit was identified as Timothy McVeigh, a decorated American veteran.

    In The Heritage, Tuymans explored the twisting of nationality and nationalism that was evidenced by McVeigh’s campaign, as well as in wider cultural and political shifts. As is ever the case, the innocuous-seeming surfaces of his images belied complex currents of thought and subversion. In The Heritage VI, one of the most iconic works from the series, an image of a smiling, bespectacled man seems like a portrait of a statesman, yet actually represents a white supremacist who had been tangentially implicated in some theories regarding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. An image of a man working in fact shows someone dealing with toxic materials. The American flag is rendered gaudy through a shift in palette. All this shows the way that images can ring false.

    Within this conceptual maelstrom is The Heritage IX, showing a birthday cake. What are we to make of this image, with its beguilingly innocent face twisted through Tuymans’ brushwork? Tuymans appears to be hinting at the way that culture, history and politics can be indoctrinated—and often, for the worse. This is an image of a cake that has been tailored for its assumed child recipient. This is an example of programming. In addition, the way in which a cake marks a birthday, and therefore the passing of time, means that this becomes an unlikely memento mori, a subject all the more apt in the work of an artist as steeped in the paintings of the Flemish Old Masters as Tuymans. And all the more so, when linked to the Oklahoma City bombing, which saw victims of all ages suffering. By sheer juxtaposition with the other works in the series, The Heritage IX thus takes on a more sombre air with its tender brushwork, pale image and record of a past, lost celebration. Tuymans is reminding us that, 'Violence is the only structure underlying my work. It is both physical and detached at the same time.’ (Tuymans, quoted in R. Storr, 'A Worst Case Scenario’, pp. 13-39, Luc Tuymans: Mwana Kotoko, Beautiful White Man, exh. cat. from 2001 Venice Biennale, Ghent, 2001, p. 35.)

  • Catalogue Essay

    「我希望我的畫作從一開始就看上去很舊,因為它們是關於回憶的,所以這一點很重要。」(圖伊曼斯,錄於 R. Storr,<最糟的狀況>,13-39頁,《呂克·圖伊曼斯: Mwana Kotobo, 漂亮的白人》,展覽圖錄,來自2001年威尼斯雙年展,根特,2001年,21頁)

    《遺產 IX》是呂克·圖伊曼斯1996年的畫作,曾與另外九幅其他編號的作品在紐約 David Zwirner 畫廊作小型展覽,該展覽在藝評圈中得到廣泛佳譽,是圖伊曼斯事業的一大突破,讓他走向國際舞台,這時,美國藝評界也開始對他產生關注。展覽的「遺產」系列十幅作品當時有兩幅被美國的博物館納入典藏:《遺產 I》由費城藝術博館收入,《遺產 IV》由紐約現代藝術博物館收入。而還有一幅作品,《遺產 X》竟從畫廊被盜,也算是一種不請自來的恭維。

    圖伊曼斯的繪畫常以攝影作品為基礎來源,放置於新的處境,遠離它們原先拍攝時的設定,逐漸獲得或遺失其意義,轉變並演進。如藝術家本人所解釋:「我的作品主要處理已有的圖像,這樣才能彰顯回憶之不足。」(圖伊曼斯,錄於 S. Folie,<呂克·圖伊曼斯>,118-121頁,《“親愛的藝術家,畫我…”: 在畢卡比亞之後畫肖像》展覽圖錄,巴黎,2002年,119-120頁)。這也明顯是《遺產 IX》所屬的一系列繪畫作品之核心,作品主題包括美國國旗照片、狩獵帽子、拉什莫爾山,還有水桶、汽車和工作中的人。本作《遺產 IX》中的主題其實是一個生日蛋糕,但圖伊曼斯故意令畫面顯得很暗淡,並滿是缺陷。

    在此幅《遺產 IX》,圖伊曼斯在畫布邊界運用深色顏料,像一個畫框般包圍著中間改編自照片的圖像,也襯托出表面的一絲光澤,強調移動的軌跡,帶觀者遠離原本的對象題材。圖伊曼斯自己的繪畫風格是其進一步的發展所至,於概念上和攝影角度上皆是:他經常限制自己在二十四小時內完成一幅畫,限制它們的「曝光」時間。在《遺產 IX》,圖伊曼斯的藝術概念已然完全成熟,在多次移除的過程中完成一幅作品,刻意賦予它難以捉摸的外表。如 Robert Storr 對其作品的評價:「當你不確定那裡有什麼,而又可以感覺到其暗流,那是我覺得呂克最巔峰的成就」(Robert Storr,錄於L. Tillman < 呂克·圖伊曼斯與羅勃・史多爾的對話>,28-41頁,T. Simoens & D. Wingate(編),《呂克·圖伊曼斯: David Zwirner展覽》,安特衛普,2013年,29頁)那股暗流在整個「遺產」系列作品都十分強烈。他對美國1995年之氛圍產生很大的印象,那便是創作《遺產 IX》之前一年,那時國家被奧克拉荷馬市爆炸案所震驚動搖,事件過後,許多人馬上認定是外國恐怖分子所為,但最後確定的罪犯卻是美國授勛的退役軍人 蒂莫斯・麥維克。

    透過「遺產」系列作品,圖伊曼斯探討國家身份和民族主義這些被麥維克事件所扭曲的理念,以及更廣義的文化與政治更替。其作品表面的平靜總是暗藏複雜的思緒和顛覆。《遺產 VI》是系列最有標誌性的作品之一,畫中微笑著的眼鏡男子看似一位政治家,但其實代表了一個白人優越主義者,對1963年甘迺迪遇刺案作出牽強的陰謀論。事實上,一個男子的圖像如上述作品,可以於畫作中展現其陰暗意涵,美國國旗在改變色調後也可變得俗麗,可見畫面足以製造謊言的能力。

    在這些理論的漩渦中,《遺產 IX》呈現的是一個生日蛋糕,我們在這個經圖伊曼斯筆觸扭曲而矯揉造作的臉龐可以看出什麼呢?圖伊曼斯似乎在暗示文化、歷史和政治都是可以被灌輸概念的,而這多數不是件好事。這是一個專門為兒童設計的一個蛋糕,而其本身便是一個程式編排。另外,蛋糕意味著生日,也就是時間之流逝,像是對終將面對死亡的一種提醒,這對熟知弗蘭芒古典藝術的圖伊曼斯來說更加明顯,並聯繫起奧克拉荷馬市爆炸案那些各年齡層的受害者。與同系列其他作品相比,《遺產 IX》因其稚嫩的筆觸和暗淡的圖像又添上一層憂愁,像是一個失去了慶祝的過去。圖伊曼斯提醒我們:「暴力是我作品背後唯一的結構,它既真實可見,又完全脫離。」(圖伊曼斯,錄於 R. Storr,<最糟的狀況>,13-39頁,《呂克·圖伊曼斯: Mwana Kotobo, 漂亮的白人》,展覽圖錄,來自2001年威尼斯雙年展,根特,2001年,35頁)

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Property of an Important American Collector

The Heritage IX

signed, titled and dated '"THE HERITAGE IX" LUC TUYMANS 1996' on the stretcher
oil on canvas
50.5 x 67.3 cm. (19 7/8 x 26 1/2 in.)
Painted in 1996.

HK$2,200,000 - 2,800,000 

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20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 25 November 2018