Tuymans based this painting of a dense, billowing cloud on a photograph taken during the collapse of one of the World Trade Center towers in 2001. While the widely circulated source image is steeped in emotional potency, Tuymans has removed all markers of context, save for fragments of a streetlamp (at bottom left) and flagpole (at right), and has titled the work Demolition. The artist, who considers painting to be an antiquated medium, uses “color to play with time.” “By mixing white and color … I could make a canvas seem as though it had existed for thirty or forty years,” he has said. Tuymans deliberately makes his paintings “look old from the start … because they are about memory.”
Gallery label from What is Painting? Contemporary Art from the Collection, July 7–September 17, 2007.