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Collectors Line Up for New Work by Luc Tuymans

Strong demand for works by Belgian painter Luc Tuymans, who is the subject of two current major traveling exhibitions, has resulted in a waiting list for his paintings at Zeno X, Antwerp, which has represented the artist since 1990, gallery owner Frank Demaegd told ART­newsletter.

NEW YORK—Strong demand for works by Belgian painter Luc Tuymans, who is the subject of two current major traveling exhibitions, has resulted in a waiting list for his paintings at Zeno X, Antwerp, which has represented the artist since 1990, gallery owner Frank Demaegd told ARTnewsletter. Demaegd said new works by Tuymans don’t stay in the gallery very long, noting that its last exhibition of the artist’s work, in 2008, sold out in a matter of days.

Prices for the artist’s paintings start at $500,000 and rise to $2million, according to New York gallery owner David Zwirner, who has represented the artist since 1993. Zwirner told ARTnewsletter that the highest price for a work by Tuymans at his gallery was paid in 2006, when one of the artist’s paintings was sold for $2.5million to a private European collector. Demaegd said that the highest price for a Tuymans work at Zeno X is €800,000, paid a few years ago. Drawings by the artist, usually in pencil and made as preliminary sketches for his paintings, range in price from $13,500 to $27,000, and the small number of lithographs that Tuymans produces—often sold to benefit various charities—sell for $5,000/15,000.

According to Zwirner, Tuymans has collectors on both sides of the Atlantic as well as in Asia and the Middle East. “It’s a truly international career,” he said, noting that U.S. buyers account for roughly half of the demand for the available work, and Europeans for about 30 percent. Zwirner’s waiting list consists of approximately 20 major private collectors and museums, he said. “It could be 100 names, but Tuymans doesn’t produce that much, so it doesn’t make sense to have so large a list.”

There are currently two major traveling exhibitions of the artist’s work on view in Europe and the United States: A retrospective of 75 works, dating from 1978 through the present, is currently at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (through May 2). The show was organized by SFMOMA and the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio, where the show opened last September, and will travel to the Dallas Museum of Art (June 6–Sept. 5) and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (Oct. 2–Jan. 9).

“Against the Day,” an exhibition of new work inspired by the Thomas Pynchon novel of the same name, has been traveling in Europe, with stops at the Wiels Centre d’Art Contemporain, Brussels; Baibakov Art Projects, Moscow, and the Moderna Museet, Malmö, Sweden (through April 25). In addition, a show of new work is scheduled at the David Zwirner gallery in November, and will then travel to Zeno X early next year.

Tuymans’s work has begun showing up in public sales with some regularity, and his auction prices reached their high point in 2005, when the oil painting Sculpture, 2000, sold for $1.47million at Christie’s, double the $500,000/700,000 estimate. Other top auction prices include $1million, paid for the oil on linen Mrs., 1999, at Christie’s in 2006 (estimate: $800,000/1.2million), and $750,297, paid for the oil Evidence, 2005, at Phillips de Pury & Company in London in 2008 (estimate: $596,660/795,500).

Demaegd told ARTnewsletter that gallery prices for the artist’s work have generally been higher than those at auction, because “all of the most important works have been sold to major collectors or to museums.” Among the museums that have works by Tuymans in their collections are the Art Institute of Chicago; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Museum of Modern Art, Frankfurt; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Pompidou Center, Paris; ­SFMOMA; the Solomon R. Guggen­heim Museum, New York, and the Tate, London.

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