Luc Tuymans - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Friday, October 14, 2022 | Phillips
  • "I have a high distrust for images, even my own."
    —Luc Tuymans
    Magnified beyond recognition and divorced from any context outside of itself, Lantern is a particularly captivating work by acclaimed Belgian artist Luc Tuymans. Flattened into abstraction, the composition is difficult to read at first, its elegantly scalloped lines and compressed palette eventually resolving into the interlocking panes of glass and leading of the antiquated lantern of its title. Highly cinematic, Tuymans’ closely-cropped format prompts reflections upon the nature of the image and interpretation – and how easily the two can be alienated from one another.


    Remaining committed to the representational in an era when his contemporaries were veering increasingly towards abstraction, Tuymans first gained critical recognition in the early 1990s with his strange and highly evocative images that explored history and its representation, the machinations of power, technology and the image, and the strangeness of quotidian objects. Executed in 1993, Lantern belongs to this critical period of the artist’s career, the year after his widely-acclaimed Documenta exhibition and just one year after he began to show with David Zwirner. Included in Tuyman’s three-part 2008 retrospective where the work travelled between Budapest, Warsaw, and Munich, Lantern highlights the artist’s deep respect for painterly tradition mediated through an image-saturated contemporary lens.

    Walter Sickert, Minnie Cunningham at the Old Bedford, 1892, Tate, London. Image: © Tate
    Walter Sickert, Minnie Cunningham at the Old Bedford, 1892, Tate, London. Image: © Tate


    Drawing on associations with darkened alleyways and seedier haunts, the deeply luminous red light casts a sinister glow that calls to mind the crepuscular light and hazy visions of Walter Sickert. Vibrating against the softer tones surrounding it, the vertical shock of red here seems especially to evoke Sickert’s haunting Minnie Cunningham at the Old Bedford, which retrospectively seems to fulfil Tuyman’s description of his own work wherein ‘even blurriness is painted, so it’s very sharp.’i Sickert too was fascinated by the form and functioning of the image, and of its propensity towards ambiguity, something self-consciously cultivated in what Tuymans has dubbed his ‘authentic falsifications’.


    Hypertrophy and the Image


    Working primarily from found images and filmed footage, Tuymans’ adopted the vernacular of photographs and film stills, finding deliberate visual strategies such as close-ups and extreme cropping to distort meaning and legibility, pushing the image into incomprehension. In this, his work looks back towards the Surrealism of fellow Belgian painter René Magritte, whose compositions carry viewers beyond the rational world, liberating art from more its more conventional role in relation to meaning. In the 1950s, Magritte began to develop his Hypertrophy series, where everyday objects such as apples, rocks, and roses, were enlarged to exaggerated proportions, filling out the small rooms they often occupy . This perplexing tension generates an unsettling effect that seems to speak to the sense of alienation and unease that pervaded post-war Europe, echoed in Lantern’s own, disorientating magnification and its manipulation of the image.


    René Magritte, L'anniversaire, 1959, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
    René Magritte, L'anniversaire, 1959, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto. Image: Photothèque R. Magritte /Adagp Images, Paris / Scala, Florence, Artwork: © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2022


    Collector’s Digest


    • One of the most influential painters working today, Luc Tuymans at once defies painterly convention, and embraces painting as the most traditional of all artistic mediums.


    • Examples of Tuymans work can be found in major international institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Tate Gallery in London, and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, among others.


    • Alongside his painting practice, Tuymans is also an accomplished and active curator, especially showcased in the 2015 exhibition that he organised with London’s Parasol Unit, bringing together six painters of different ages and nationalities.


    • A striking example of one of Tyuman’s magnified images of quotidian objects, Lantern was included in the three-part 2008 Luc Tuymans: Retrospective where it travelled between Budapest, Warsaw, and Munich.


    Meet the Artist: Luc Tuymans, The Guardian, 2012

    i Luc Tuymans, quoted in Iona Whittaker, 'Luc Tuymans Interview', Ran Dian, issue 4, Winter 2016 - 2017, online
    • Provenance

      Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Budapest, Mücsarnok Kunsthalle, Luc Tuymans: Retrospective, 15 December 2007 – 10 February 2008
      Munich, Haus der Kunst, Luc Tuymans: Wenn der Frühling Kommt, 2 March – 12 May 2008, p. 85 (titled Lamp; installation view illustrated, p. 63)
      Warsaw, Zacheta – National Gallery of Art, Luc Tuymans: Come and See, 30 May – 17 August 2008

    • Literature

      Frank Demaegd, ed., Luc Tuymans, Zeno X Gallery: 25 Years of Collaboration, Antwerp, 2016, p. 262 (illustrated)
      Eva Meyer-Hermann, ed., Luc Tuymans: Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings Volume 1: 1972-1994, New York, 2017, no. LTP 162, pp. 366, 488 (illustrated, p. 367)



signed and dated ‘Luc Tuymans 93’ on the reverse
oil on canvas
49.7 x 49.5 cm (19 5/8 x 19 1/2 in.)
Painted in 1993.

Full Cataloguing

£200,000 - 300,000 ‡♠

Sold for £226,800

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20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 14 October 2022