München, 2012

Luc Tuymans said about München that it “holds a threat; you feel something is happening but you don’t know exactly what”. The source image is that of an imposing character wearing a mask, wrapped in a blue cape that covers the whole body, a figure of the Haus der Kunst carnival parade in Munich, in 1933. The contemporary building housing Munich’s Haus der Kunst was erected at the request of Adolf Hitler in 1933, soon after he came to power, with the aim of making it one of the most important centers of Nazi cultural propaganda. This is where an exhibition was organized in 1937 about “degenerate art” [Entartete Kunst], which drew more than two million visitors over a period of a month and a half. Some 70 years later, Luc Tuymans exhibited there a retrospective of his work, in 2008. The theme of carnival, which is recurrent in Luc Tuymans’ oeuvre, is for him this ambivalent moment when collective rejoicing can turn into a devastating crowd, depending on how events unfold. München thus strives to perceive in an “innocent” character the premonition of the inevitable. Would it be the same for every fact?