Member’s Edition 2017: Luc Tuymans


Luc Tuymans: Apple (Vereinsgabe), 2017, Digital print on cardboard, 25 x 26,5 cm, unframed, handsigned on the reverse side

© Photo: Simon Vogel

It is a great pleasure and honour for us to announce that the painter and illustrator Luc Tuymans has agreed to design the 2017 member’s edition. Tuymans, who was born in 1958 in the Belgian town of Mortsel, is one of the most important contemporary artists. He participated twice in the Documenta in Kassel (1992 and 2002) and represented Belgium at the Venice Biennale (2001). In the past fifteen years, his work has also been honoured in Europe and America through comprehensive retrospectives.

Tuymans’ work came into the focus of the international art scene at the beginning of the 1990s, when the genre of painting hardly seemed to have any relevance anymore. At that time, he mostly presented small-format paintings characterized by a reduced palette of colors, so that his motifs seemed washed-out or faded. The reduction, unobtrusiveness, and silence of the works often stood in contrast to the drastic and content-related vehemence of the depicted themes, which were historical as well as social events, processes, and phenomena, such as the Holocaust or later colonial politics in Belgian Congo and September 11, 2001.

Tuymans’ themes, however, are not limited to horror scenarios of humanity; in his oeuvre, too, depictions of trivial moments of everyday life encounter confrontations with elementary conditions of existence. Irrespective of the subject, the works of the Belgian artist bear witness to his efforts to approach the problem of how individual or collective memory is constituted and what role images can play in this context.

The work that Tuymans created exclusively for the members of the Kölnischer Kunstverein as a member’s edition, and with which we would like to thank them for their continued support, is an almost square digital print on cardboard showing an apple. The piece of fruit, which is depicted in matt grey and green tones, seems to have been shaped out of shape in the lower part, although it is unclear what led to the loss of the fruit flesh. The picture inevitably recalls both the manifold symbolism of the apple and the tradition of vanitas, so that the work points far beyond the object depicted.

The realization of ambitious projects, such as the realization of an association gift, is not possible without the support of our friends and partners. In this context, we would first like to thank Luc Tuymans most sincerely for agreeing – after Rosemarie Trockel, Lawrence Weiner, Kai Althoff and Isa Genzken – to create a work for the members of the Kölnischer Kunstverein. We would also like to thank Mrs. Gerburg Imhoff, Mrs. Jutta Rohde and the Imhoff Foundation, who have enthusiastically supported the production of the work.

In autumn 2013, the Kölnischer Kunstverein initiated an extraordinary project that represents a bridge between the historical traditions of German art associations and the present. Based on the “Nietenblätter” which were widespread in the 19th century, the so-called ” Vereinsgabe” (member’s edition) was created, which is made available to the members of the Kölnischer Kunstverein. This is a signed original, whose number of copies depends on the number of members. This gesture is intended as a reminder that the members represent the central basis for the activities of the Kunstverein and that since its foundation in the 19th century the institution has been associated with a definite democratic idea.
The previous authors of the member’s edition were Rosemarie Trockel (2013), Lawrence Weiner (2014), Kai Althoff (2015) and Isa Genzken (2016).

Kindly supported by:
Imhoff Foundation