2009 – 2010
The exhibition ‘Glasses’ is only open for a few days. With this warm weather, a cold museum room is a must … This exhibition focuses on portraits with glasses, an idea from 2013 when artist Luc Tuymans discovered that 75% of his portraits were wearing glasses. If you run out of time the following days, you can go to London in October. The National Portrait Gallery will take over the exhibition.
I was allowed to guide the exhibition and always started or finished on floor 5 of the MAS. There you have the best view of the biggest work of the artist: Dead Skull. It is also the first work he made for a public space.
When building the MAS, the city council asked Tuymans to make a work of art for the square in front of the MAS. The artist almost immediately decided to take the painting Dead Skull (2002, National Gallery Washington) as the starting point. Luc Tuymans always starts from an image, he also started with an image for the painting Dead Skull. This image is the memorial stone on the façade of the cathedral in memory of Quinten Massys. Massys lived around 1500 and was one of the founders of the Antwerp painting school. The plaque dates from the 17th century and was probably made after the example of his tombstone at the cathedral. A replica from the 19th century hangs on the cathedral, the original is part of the MAS collection.
40 meter x 40 meter = 1600 m²
11 different color tones
96 569 stones
The painting in Washington was photographed and converted to a digital image. It was further edited and translated into a grid of 11 colors and 4 formats. On the basis of this, the square was laid out in the winter of 2009. The inauguration was on 17 May 2010. Traditionally, the skull symbolizes the transience of life. The mosaic reminds us at the same time of our transience and inevitable death.
To conclude: a timelapse video of the construction of the square:
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