Luc Tuymans' mosaic
Luc Tuymans’ ‘Dead Skull’ gives Antwerp’s artistic history a contemporary twist. The 1,600-m² mosaic is his first permanent work on public display.
Look for Luc Tuymans’1,600-m² mosaic, ‘Dead Skull’, on the museum square at the foot of the MAS. The Antwerp artist based his mosaic on a painting of the same name he had produced in 2002, which was itself based on the commemorative plaque to Antwerp resident Quinten Metsys (1466-1529) which is attached to the outside of the Cathedral of Our Lady. Metsys was a painter and founder of the painters’ guild.
‘Dead Skull’ establishes a link between painting in the Golden Age and a contemporary Antwerp icon. It also links two of Antwerp’s towers: the MAS and the Cathedral of Our Lady. It is Luc Tuymans’ first public work to be permanently on display. During his career, he has created over 40 site-specific works, including a large number of temporary murals.
Luc Tuymans’ mosaic innovatively links his knowledge of the painted image to the process of working with stone on an unprecedented scale. He began by constructing a new image from the 2002 painting. It translates all the subtle nuances and painterly qualities to a grid of 488 x 488 pixels. The final architectural design for the mosaic was generated using that image and a specially designed digital conversion programme. It uses four different formats and a palette of 11 different types of stone.
The MAS tells the story of Antwerp’s relationship with the world, a relationship that has lasted for five centuries. That story is open-ended. The museum has asked contemporary artists to bring it right up to date.