Luc Tuymans - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Wednesday, November 17, 2021 | Phillips

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    "I wanted to make my paintings look old from the start, which is important because they are about memory."
    —Luc Tuymans



    Painted in 2014, Luc Tuymans’ Wallpaper is a striking example of the Belgian artist’s distinctive painterly practice that explores the relationship between representation and historical memory. Towering over eight feet in height, the present work depicts the edge of a serene wooden landscape with a large obelisk seen on a hill in the distance. Engendering a gentle backlight aesthetic synonymous with the artist’s practice, the soft monochromatic palette casts the subject matter in an eerie light, as if historically frozen in time or a recollection of a fading memory. Among the artist’s largest-scaled works to arrive at auction, the present work was a highlight in the highly acclaimed Luc Tuymans: The Shore exhibition at David Zwirner, London in 2015.




    The present work installed at Luc Tuymans: The Shore, David Zwirner, January 30 – April 2, 2015.

    The present work installed at Luc Tuymans: The Shore, David Zwirner,
    January 30 – April 2, 2015. Artwork: © 2021 Luc Tuymans



    As suggested by its title, the present work was directly influenced by Tuymans’ visit to the luxurious Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, where the artist took photographs of the decadent wallpaper embellishing its afternoon tearoom, the Palm Court. An elegant, domed space guarded with ceiling-high palm trees, the walls are adorned by bespoke, hand-painted de Gournay wallpaper depicting the city’s exquisite landscape across the interior paneling. Here, Tuymans silos and enlarges the design of one panel, isolating the scene from its locality and challenging the apparent value of ascribing meaning in language, medium, and form by endowing the painting with the very name of its original source.




    The Palm Court at The Balmoral Hotel

    The Palm Court at The Balmoral Hotel



    By displacing the image from its glamorous environs, the artist transforms the decorative into the painterly, reality into abstracted representation. In a tour of his David Zwirner show, the artist recalled, “All the paintings sort of stick together in a way, they are then juxtaposed with things where I actually stayed, having been there [Edinburgh] twice, we stayed in the hotel Balmoral, and when they make the tea, in an enormous space – they have this wallpaper!”i Frequently based on secondary imagery stemming from sources including magazines, the Internet, Polaroids, and his iPhone camera, his works recall Gerhard Richter’s practice of employing photographs to render hazy figurations. “I work from a reaction upon images that are already represented,” he recently explained, “because I believe nothing is really original. But then I have to make my take on it—and figuration in that sense becomes rather abstract, because everybody can have different connotations.”ii




    Gerhard Richter, Bühler Höhe, 1991. Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden, Artwork: © 2021 Gerhard Richter

    Gerhard Richter, Bühler Höhe, 1991. Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden, Artwork: © 2021 Gerhard Richter (0224)



    "[Wallpaper] of course is the epitome of the idyllic state of the gardens and the obelisk, the idea of classicism is
    in there."
    —Luc Tuymans



    Tuymans has famously dubbed his paintings “authentic falsifications” since his early career in the 1990s, the oxymoron referring to the role of reproduction in his practice as an essential device. “When I started out,” Tuymans recalled, “I liked to make paintings that looked as if they were done 40 years ago, to create a different sense of time.”iii The artist appears to return to this painterly sensibility in Wallpaper by transposing the source image through a muted palette, conjuring a captivating surreal atmosphere reminiscent of those seen in historic engravings. In doing so, Tuymans creates a distance between the painting and the perceived image before the viewer that engenders the alluring oscillation between representation and reality, history and memory, past and present, memory and imagination.




    Sands, Hadley Highstone, near Barnet, 1805. Image: HIP / Art Resource, NY

    Sands, Hadley Highstone, near Barnet, 1805. Image: HIP / Art Resource, NY



    i Luc Tuymans, quoted in “Luc Tuymans Explores Domesticity, Re-photography, And Scottish Enlightenment,” Artlyst, January 31, 2015.

    ii Luc Tuymans, quoted in Jameson Fitzpatrick, “As Far as Luc Tuymans Is Concerned, Nothing Is Original,” The New York Times, October 20, 2020, online.

    iii Luc Tuymans, quoted in Jurriaan Benschop, “Painting Mute,” DAMN°, no. 49, March 2015.

    • Provenance

      David Zwirner, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      London, David Zwirner, Luc Tuymans: The Shore, January 30 – April 2, 2015

    • Literature

      Luc Tuymans: Birds of a Feather, exh. cat., Talbot Rice Gallery, The University of Edinburgh, Antwerp, 2015, p. 108 (illustrated, p. 57)
      Jackie Wullschlager, “Luc Tuymans: Dark Visions and Enlightenment,” Financial Times, January 2, 2015
      Natalia Rachlin, “Luc Tuymans Unveils New Paintings at a London Show,” Architectural Digest, January 30, 2015, online (illustrated)
      Emily Spicer, “Luc Tuymans: The Shore,” Studio International, February 21, 2015, online (illustrated)
      Jurriaan Benschop, “Painting Mute,” Damn Magazine, March 6, 2015, online (illustrated)
      Belinda Seppings, “Luc Tuymans: The Shore,” This is Tomorrow, March 11, 2015, online
      Eva Meyer-Hermann, ed., Luc Tuymans: Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Volume 3: 2007-2018, New York, 2019, no. LTP 504, pp. 250, 402 (illustrated, p. 251)



signed and erroneously dated "L Tuymans 015" on the reverse
oil on canvas
99 5/8 x 70 in. (253 x 177.8 cm)
Painted in 2014.

Full Cataloguing

$1,500,000 - 2,000,000 

Sold for $1,250,000

Contact Specialist

Amanda Lo Iacono
New York Head of Department & Head of Auctions
+1 212 940 1278

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 17 November 2021