Luc Tuymans was born in Mortsel, Belgium. He began to study fine art at the Sint-Lukasinstituut in Brussels in 1976, and subsequently also studied art history at Vrije Universiteit in Brussels.
Tuymans' work is figurative and makes extensive use of techniques from photography, television and film, such as cropping, framing, sequencing and sometimes extreme close-ups. His palette usually tends toward monochrome. Subjects of his paintings range from the historic, for example covering the Holocaust or colonial politics in Belgian Congo, to the very banal, depicting everyday objects. Some of his paintings represent abstract emotions. For a while he abandoned painting completely to make films.