On the occasion of the Festival of Art History, the National Institute for Art History is mounting an exhibition in the Mérimée apartments at the Château de Fontainebleau dedicated to the print work of Luc Tuymans.

Since the 1980s, this Belgian artist has been constantly renewing and redefining his way of creating and looking at images, profoundly influencing subsequent generations of artists. His prints and multiples, however, remain little known, particularly in France, and have not been the subject of a specific exhibition for nearly ten years. Curated by Éric de Chassey in close collaboration with the artist, this exhibition, entitled Appartement 3 pièces (Three-Room Apartment), evolved from a particular painting from the collections of the Château de Fontainebleau : Basket and Vase of Flowers (Corbeille et vase de fleurs) by Gérard Van Spaendonck, a Dutch painter based in Paris, acquired in 1785 by Louis XVI and on display at the château since at least the Restoration. This painting, which will be transferred to the Mérimée apartment within the chateau, stimulated the exhibition’s twofold theme of still life and the representation of power — themes approached both directly and metaphorically in the work of Tuymans— which also dovetail with the concepts of surveillance and portraiture. The hyper-focused selection allows us at once to question the relevance of these themes at a site devoted to pageantry and history since its creation, and to observe the artist’s use of diversified techniques to imbue each of his images with materiality, whether through lithography, screen printing, printing on porcelain, or collage under plexiglass.

June 2 – July 3
Château appartement Prosper Mérimée

Visual artist Luc Tuymans was born in 1958 in Mortsel, near Antwerp. He studied art in Brussels and Antwerp between 1976 and 1982, before obtaining a degree in art history at the Université libre de Bruxelles in 1986. Having initially abandoned painting to pursue photography and film, Luc Tuymans returned to it in 1985, holding his first personal exhibition at the Palais des Termes in Ostend. In 1992, his participation in Documenta IX in Kassel and his exhibition at the Kunsthalle in Bern established him as a major figure on the international scene. His approach to the image ranks him as a master of the commonplace, due to his broad range of familiar subjects, from political figures and celebrities to desolate landscapes and everyday objects, as well as his tendency to use the established world as departure point via photos, still or filmed images, or newspaper clippings. Tuymans’ work has been exhibited in museums such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Musée national d’art moderne du Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the Kunsthalle in Bern and as part of major international exhibitions including Documenta in 1992 and 2002 and the Venice Biennale in 2019. His work is in the permanent collections of major institutions including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Tate Gallery in London.