Home Magazine The Baroque vision of Luc Tuymans at Fondazione Prada

Agony, rapture, trickery, extreme freedom of shape, a triumph of colors, the depths of the human soul. Such is contained within the “Baroque", born in the 17th century and since then never having stopped to hurt us with its powerful energy, either positively or negatively. 

Its wealth of style and many different interpretations means it has always been an important and fundamental visual vocabulary for many artists. Even during the 20th Century there was no lack of interesting re-enactments of this style. This is exactly the starting point of the Luc Tuymans' exhibition curated for Fondazione Prada and entitled “Sanguine - Luc Tuymans on Baroque”, visitable from October 18th 2018 to February 25th 2019. If you are an avid frequenter of the Prada Foundation in Milan, don't miss our article about the John Bock's exhibition "THE NEXT- QUASI-COMPLEX". 


Immagine della mostra “Sanguine. Luc Tuymans on Baroque” Fondazione Prada
Foto Delfino Sisto Legnani e Marco Cappelletti. Courtesy Fondazione Prada


Organised in collaboration with M HKA (Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp), KMSKA (Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp) and the City of Antwerp, the project is proposing a new and wider version in Milan, after an initial presentation in the Belgian city from June to September 2018. For this new occasion Tuymans has conceived an intense visual experience consisting of more than 80 works created by 63 international artists, of which over 25 are presented exclusively in the Prada Foundation. As a personal and declared reading of the Baroque, Tuymans has selected both contemporary artists and famous works by famous masters from the past such as Caravaggio, Antoon van Dyck or Peter Paul Rubens, all fathers of the Baroque

Following the lesson of Walter Benjamin, according to whom the Baroque marks the beginning of modernity, Luc Tuymans explores the search for authenticity, the political significance of artistic representation, the emotional turmoil generated by art, the celebration of the author’s personality, and the international dimension of the art scene, all recognizing the Baroque as a primary point of reference for today’s art.


Immagine della mostra “Sanguine. Luc Tuymans on Baroque” Fondazione Prada
​​​Foto Delfino Sisto Legnani e Marco Cappelletti. Courtesy Fondazione Prada


The exhibition title—a word that signifies 
the color of blood, but also a violent and vigorous temperament, and a pictorial technique—suggests a multiplicity of perspectives to interpret the exhibited works, in which violence and its simulation, cruelty and dramatization, realism and exaggeration, disgust and wonder, terror and ecstasy coexist. Luc Tuymans stated:

"When I was asked to conceptualize an exhibition about the Baroque to take
place during the Baroque festival in Antwerp in summer 2018, my first reaction was to propose two contrasting masterpieces from different times. The first work was Five 
Car Stud (1969–72) by Edward Kienholz, a large sculptural installation—now part of Prada Collection—that depicts the castration of an African American man for allegedly having had sexual relations with a white woman. The second work was a painting by Caravaggio, David with the Head of Goliath (1609–10). The aim of these juxtapositions is to create feedback that has direct relevance to the present moment. Rather than a traveling show between Antwerp and Milan, “Sanguine” is a project composed of two parts, or chapters. In Milan, the work that provides the contemporary counterpart is Fucking Hell (2008) by Jake & Dinos Chapman, and what is paramount is the public sphere". 


Among the long list of participating artists, there are works with a strong visual and emotional impact on the visitor. Fucking Hell (2008) by Jake and Dinos Chapman, in which the grotesque aspect of terror is embodied by 60,000 toy soldiers that inside large caskets practice or suffer violence; Nosferatu (The Undead) (2018), a video installation by Javier Téllez that explores the cinematic memory and the condition of isolation of the mentally ill. A series of lithographs Thanatophanies (1955-95) by On Kawara, which represents the deformed faces of the victims of the nuclear bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.


Immagine della mostra “Sanguine. Luc Tuymans on Baroque” Fondazione Prada
Foto Delfino Sisto Legnani e Marco Cappelletti. Courtesy Fondazione Prada


A similar human reaction of horror and war in "Sanguine" heralds the severed head of the Goliath, to which Caravaggio has lent his face, and the bloodless child portrayed in Sleeper (2007-08) by Michaël Borremans. The gruesome vulnerability of the victims observed in the Lamentation of the Dead Christ (1614) by Peter Paul Rubens, that is also the central subject of the installation Flanders Fields (2000) by Berlinde De Bruyckere and in the painting Dead Girl (2002) by Marlene Dumas.

Fragility and monumentality coexist in the sculpture The day weighs on the night I (1994) by Luciano Fabro made with marble, gold, lead and glass; in the installation Room with Unfired Clay Figures (2011-15) by Mark Manders, as well as in the works of Cheikh Ndiaye and Diego Marcon. The traits of excess and kitsch evident in the wooden sculptures created in 1758 by Johann Georg Pinsel can be found in the works of artists such as Jacques-André Boiffard, Roberto Cuoghi, Kerry James Marshall and Takashi Murakami.


Stay Tuned on Kooness magazine for more exciting news from the art world.


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