Marlene Dumas - Photo of the artist - Image via

Marlene Dumas

South Africa 1953

Painting, Prints, Collage

Marlene Dumas
Marlene Dumas
South Africa
June 1, 2016
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Creating some of the most unique and instantly recognizable works out there, Marlene Dumas is a versitile artist originally from South Africa. No matter which medium she works with, Dumas has a characteristic visual aesthetic that relies on unique forms and washed up colors. She creates all her pieces by analyzing and deconstructing photographs which either she or some other artist makes – with the latter being the best solution as the due then proceds and holds a combined exhibition that offers the audience a now-and-before view of the works. Shortly put, the daring work of Marlene Dumas is easily some of the most exciting stuff that the art scene has seen for quite some time.

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Marlene Dumas – The Image As Burden exhibition – Image via

From Cape Town to Amsterdam

Marlene Dumas was born on August 3, 1953, in the Capital of South Africa, Cape Town. She grew up on her family’s vineyard just beyond the city limits, in the heart of the semi-rural Kuils River region. Dumas was a student at Michaelis School of Fine Art, a part of the University of Cape Town, studying art during the early 1970s. These studies provided her with an excellent foundation upon which Marlene was able to build her career in the future. Learning about art naturally inspired Dumas to try herself at some form of creating – her greatest influence in those early years was the legendary Diane Arbus, a photographer who explored complexities that came with representing the human form. As you will soon see for yourself, this influence will prove to be a pivotal moment in Dumas’s development. During the year of 1976, Dumas made a key decision to relocate herself to another continent – she moved to Amsterdam after she won a scholarship and began her extensive studies at the Dutch artist-run Institute de Ateliers. Almost ten years later, Dumas started to paint human heads and figures, working almost exclusively from photographic sources like the works of the already mentioned Diane Arbus which never stopped fascinating Marlene.

The photography of Diane Arbus proved to be a crucial influence on both the early and mature works of Marlene Dumas

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Marlene Dumas – For Whom the Bell Tolls, 2008 (Left) / The Painter, 1994 (Right)

The Main Comments Dumas Tries to Make

Dumas’s art was never a literal rendition of a photographic source, but rather a cropped image of some of the details from the photos she uses. She usually changes coloration when compared to the original material, often turning to her characteristic palette of grays, blues and reds in order to achieve the desired effects her work is famed for. Marlene Dumas has been known to create paintings, collages, drawings, prints and installations – that’s the reason why this artist is often recognized for her adaptability and versatility. Subjects of Marlene’s works are caught in their own moment in time, isolated from the rest of the world and living in a place so distant from the rest of us that allows them to seem very quiet and respectful. Her first all-painting show was held in 1985, at the Galerie Paul Andriesse in Amsterdam, a town Malene embraced like her own home city. it should also be noted that during the year of 1995 she represented the Netherlands during the 46th Venice Biennale. This artist regularly investigates grim themes such as birth and death, stressing both the physical reality of the human body and its psychological value, using it to critique contemporary ideas of racial, sexual and social identity deeply rooted in the history of all of us. One of the better examples of Marlene’s work that explored the theme of racial and ethical intolerance is her series of paintings entitled The Eyes of the Night Creatures, made in the mid-1990s.

Marlene and Her Projects

Besides the The Eyes of the Night Creatures series, Marlene Dumas has authored many more widely recognized and awarded projects. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, she produced series of works with a subject of pregnancy and babies, causing much awareness to be raised as a result. In a collaboration with a photographer Anton Corbijn, in the late 1990s and throughout 2000s Dumas worked on a project called Stripping girls, in which the subjects at hand were strip clubs and peep shows of Amsterdam. The collaboration between the two artists produced a series of photographs which Corbijn exhibited, while Dumas used them to create paintings. Marlene also authored many self-portraits, as well as numerous paintings of her personal life such as Self Portrait at Noon (2008). Dead Marilyn (2008) is another one of the paintings with the subject of her personal life, marking the beginning of the series of paintings of mourning and weeping women, made in the year after her mother died. Before these series, in 2006 she focused her attention to political subjects and created a portrait of Osama bin Laden, with a mild smile and peaceful eyes, contrasting the image media typically portraits. For Manifesta 10 in St Petersburg, Dumas created Great Men – a series of 16 ink and pencil works, depicting many famous and allegedly gay men, including James Baldwin, Leonard Matlovich, Rudolf Nureyev, Vaslav Nijinsky, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Alan Turing, Oscar Wilde and Tennessee Williams.

Dumas makes pieces that are not provocative by content but rather through the subcontexts the artist creates

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Marlene Dumas – Pasolini’s Mother, 2012 (Left) / One of the pictures from the Great Men project. 2014 (Right)

Dumas Offers an Incredible Private View of the World

Along with her paintings, prints and drawings, Dumas also teaches on a regular basis, stating that teaching is a very important thing and not only because I teach the students things, but also because we have a dialogue, and you see what you really want. You find things out. I still believe in the Socratic dialogue. Art is really something that you learn from being around people. Such behavior brought much admiration to Dumas’s doorstep – as if her work was not enough to garner respect! Already a real milestone in the history of modern art, Marlene is without the slightest doubt one of the most compelling artists of her generation.

The artist is represented by David Zwirner 19th Street in New York, David Zwirner in London, and ME COLLECTORS Room in Berlin.

Marlene Dumas lives and works in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Featured Image: Marlene Dumas – Photo of the artist – Image via
All images courtesy of Marlene Dumas

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2016The Power Of The Avant-Garde Palais des Beaux-Arts (BOZAR), BrüsselGroup
2016The Dark Side of the Moon. Das Abgründige in der Kunst von Albrecht Dürer bis Martin DislerKunstmuseum St.Gallen, St. GallenGroup
2016Sammlung Broska - Der zweite BlickKunsthaus Wiesbaden, WiesbadenGroup
2016Donations - Florence & Daniel Guerlain KUNSTEN Museum of Modern Art, AalborgGroup
2016Silence out loudMuseum Kranenburgh, Bergen NHGroup
2015Marlene DumasFondation Beyeler, RiehenSolo
2015Marlene Dumas: The Image as BurdenTate Modern, LondonSolo
2014Marlene Dumas: The Image As Burden Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, AmsterdamSolo
2012Marlene Dumas Galerie Paul Andriesse, AmsterdamSolo
2012Marlene Dumas. Sorte. Fino Al 17 Giugno Fondazione Stelline, MailandSolo
2010TroniesHaus der Kunst, Munich Solo
2010Against the WallFundacao Serralves, Porto Solo
2010Against the WallDavid Zwirner, New York Solo
2010In the Company of AliceVictoria Miro, London Group
201025 or 30 Years Gallery: Part IIGalerie Paul Andriesse, Amsterdam Group
2009Measuring your Own GraveMenil Collection, Houston Solo
2009MOCA’s First Thirty YearsMOCA, Los Angeles Group
2009Mapping the StudioPunta della Dogana, Venice Group
2009The Female GazeCheim & Read, New York Group
2008Measuring your Own GraveMoMA, New York Solo
2008Measuring your Own GraveMuseum of Contemporary Art, LA Solo
2008IzikoSouth African National Gallery, Cape Town Solo
2008Intimate RelationsStandard Bank Gallery, JohannesburgSolo
2008Marugame Genichiro-InokumaMuseum of Contemporary Art, Kagawa Solo
2008For Whom the bell TollsZeno X, AntwerpSolo
2008Order. Desire. LightIMMA, Dublin Group
2008The Painting of Modern LifeHayward Gallery, London Group
2008The GalleryDavid Zwiner, New York Group
2007Marlene DumasGallery Koyanagi, TokyoSolo
2007SeducedBarbican, London Group
2007Global FeminismBrooklyn Museum, NYGroup
2006ResonanceFrith Street Gallery, London Group
2006Essential PaintingNational Museum of Art, Osaka Group
2006Infinite PaintingVilla Manin Centro d’Arte Contemporanea, Italy Group
2006Nederland IMuseum Gouda, Netherlands Group
2006Identita & NomadismoPalazzo delle Papesse Centro Arte Contemporanea, Sienna, Italy Group
2006Some PaintingGalerie Paul Andriesse, Amsterdam Group
2006Africa RemixHayward Gallery, London Group
2006Triumph of PaintingSaatchi Gallery, London Group
2005Marlene DumasStaatliche Kunsthalle, Baden-Baden Solo
2004The Second ComingFrith Street Gallery, London Solo
2004Termite Art Vs. White ElephantFundacio ICO, Madrid Solo
2004SuspectFondazione Bevilacqua la Massa, Venice Solo
2004Nederland Niet NederlandVan Abbemuseum, EindhovenGroup
2004Non Toccare La Donna BiancaFondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Torin Group
2004(In Search of) The Perfect LoverHauser and Wirth, London Group
2004L’AAAir du TempsDas Migro Museum, ZurichGroup
2003The Nude in Art of the 20th CenturyMuseum of Modern Art, Arken Group
2003FOCUSArt Insitute, ChicagoGroup
2002Name No NameNew Museum, New York Solo
2002Name No Namesde Pont, Tilburg Solo
2002The Beauty of IntimacyKunstraum Innsbruck, Germany Group
2002Schwarz-WeissMuscarnok, Budapest Group
2002Moffat, Kruger, DumasMonika Sprueth Galerie, Cologne Group
2002RefugeHenie Onstad Center, Oslo Group
2002Extreme ExistencePratt Institute, New York Group
2001Name No NamesCentre de Georges Pompidou, ParisSolo
2001Stop Press: beautiful productionsWhitechapel Art Gallery, LondonGroup
2000FigurationMuseion, Bozen Solo
2000Strippinggirls, met Anton CorbijnTheatermuseum Amsterdam, SMAK, Gent Solo
2000Marlene DumasCamden Arts Centre, London Solo
2000All is Fair in Love and War, Jack TiltonAnna Kustera Gallery, New YorkSolo
2000Le Sommeil ou quand la raison s'absenteMusée cantonal des Beaux-Arts, LausanneGroup
2000SalonDelfina Gallery, LondonGroup
1999M D-lightFrith Street Gallery, London Solo
1999Physical EvidenceKettle's Yard, Cambridge Group
1999Marlene DumasFondazione Teseco per l"Arte, PisaGroup
1999Spaced OutCalifornian College of Arts and Crafts, San Francisco Group
1999Trouble SpotMuhka, Antwerp Group
1999Presence: Figurative Art at the End of the CenturyTate Gallery, Liverpool Group
1999Face to FaceFries Museum, Leeuwarden Group
1999PathologiaeMuseion, Bolzano Group
19990 TO 60 IN 10 YEARSFrith Street Gallery, London Group
1999Micro - MacroUniversity of Texas, Austin Group
1999Presumés InnocentsCapc, Bordeaux Group
1999Regarding BeautyHirschorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C. Group
1999ZeitwendenKunstmuseum Bonn Group
1998Miss WorldGalerie Paul Andriesse Solo
1998FantasmaFundação Gulbenkian, Lisbon Solo
1998Desde el cuerpo: alegorias de lo femeninoMuseo bellas Artes, Cara Group
1998Wounds: between Democracy and Redemption in Contemporary ArtModerna Museet, Stockholm Group
1998SzenenwechselMuseum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt Group
19988 People from Europe, Inaugural exhibitionMuseum of Modern Art, Gunma, Japan Group
1998Hungry GhostsDouglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin Group
1998Ideal und WirklichkeitRupertinum, Salzburg Group
1997Young Boys - Part IIGallery Koyanagi, Tokyo Solo
1997Marlene Dumas WolkenkiekerProduzentengalerie, Hamburg Solo
1997Kaapse LadingOudtshorn, South Africa Group
1997De BruiloftsreportageCentraal Museum Utrecht, Utrecht Group
1997Palazzo GrassiBiennial, Venice Group
1997De VersamelingMuhka, Antwerp Group
1997Floating Images of Women in Art HistoryTochigi prefectoral Museum of Fine Arts, Utsunomiya Group
1997Distemper: Dissonant Themes in the Art of the 1990'sHirschorn Museum, Washington Group
1996Marlene DumasGallery Koyanagi, Tokyo Solo
1996Models NGBKHaus am Kleistpark, Berlin Solo
1996Marlene DumasTate Gallery, London Solo
1996Pin UpStedelijk Museum "het Toreke", Tienen Solo
1995The Dutch PavilionThe Venice Biennial Raum aktueller Kunst, Vienna Solo
1995ModelsKunstverein, SalzburgSolo
1995ARS 95Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki Group
1995Identita et AlteritaLa Biennale di Venezia, Palazzo Grassi Group
1995Der Eeuw van MondriaanMuseum Paleis Lange Voorhout, Den Haag Group
1995Hedendaags Zuid-Afrika, 12 artists from South AfricaMuseum't Coopmanshus, FranekerGroup
1994Marlene DumasThe Arts Club of Chicago, Chicago Solo
1994Marlene DumasArt Gallery of York University, Toronto Solo
1994Not From HereJack Tilton Gallery, New YorkSolo
1994Marlene Dumas, Mike Kelley, Christopher Wool (Drawings)Galerie Samia Souma, Paris Group
1994Art des Pays Bas au XXeme Siecle, Du Concept à L'ImageMusée D'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris Group
1994Ik + de Ander, Dignity for All, Reflections on HumanityBeurs van Berlage Galerie Luce Monacchese, Rome Group
1994Marlene Dumas, Juan Muñoz, Thomas SchütteFrith Street Gallery, London Group
19944 x 1 im Albertinum with Gunther FruhtrunkLouise Lawler, Marcel Group
1994Odenbach, Gemäldegalerie Neue MeisterStaatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden Group
1994Cocido Y CrudoMuseo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, MadridGroup
1993Give 'em what they WantZeno X, Antwerp Solo
1993Marlene DumasICA, Philadelphia Solo
1993The 21st CenturyKunsthalle BaselGroup
1993ÜberlebenBonner Kunstverein, Bonn Group
1992Ask me no Questions and I'll tell you no LiesGalerie Isabella Kacprzak, Cologne Solo
1992InsightAxe-Néo-7, Hull Québec Solo
1992Strips, In SituArdi Poels, Maastricht Solo
1992Miss InterpretedStedelijkVan Abbemuseum, EindhovenSolo
1992Bildnisse FigurenStampa, Basel Group
1992Ars Pro Domo, Zeitgenössische Kunst aus Kölner PrivatbesitzMuseum Ludwig, CologneGroup
1991The Origin of the SpeciesGalerie Paul Andriesse, Amsterdam Solo
1991Ausser Reichweite von KindernGalerie Stampa, Basel Solo
1991The Interrupted LifeThe New Museum, New York Group
1991Forbidden GamesJack Tilton Gallery, New York Group
1990CouplesMuseum Overholland, Amsterdam Solo
1990The Origin of the SpeciesStaatsgalerie Moderner Kunst, Munich Solo
1990SelfportraitsGalerie Tania Rumpff, Haarlem Group
1990Inconsolable, An Exhibition about PaintingLouver Gallery, New York Group
1990BevrijdingenHet Joods Historisch Museum, AmsterdamGroup
1989The Question of Human PinkKunsthalle Bern, Bern Solo
19896 Dutch ArtistsThe Fruitmarket Gallery, EdinburghGroup
1989Hommage aan PasoliniGemeentemuseum, Arnhem Group
19891988 Bluebeard StillsShaffy Theater, Amsterdam Group
1989NightfireStichting de Appel, AmsterdamGroup
1988NightmaresGalerie Wanda Reiff, Maastricht Solo
1988Mother Explains Life to Her SonKunstcentrum Marktzeventien, Enschede Solo
1988Ecco Pier Paolo PasoliniFilmmuseum, Amsterdam Solo
1987The Private versus the PublicGalerie Paul Andriesse, Amsterdam Solo
1987Art From EuropeTate Gallery, London Group
1986Fear of BabiesDe Expeditie, Amsterdam Solo
19866 Plasticiens contemporains des Pays-BasMusée d'Art Moderne Villeneuve d'Ascq Group
1986Innovation and Tradition. Dutch Art of the EightiesBadischer Kunstverien, KarlsruheGroup
1986The Meaning of Drawing, Drawings by ten Dutch artistsRijksdienst Beeldende Kunst, Den Haag Group
1985The Eyes of the Night CreaturesGalerie Paul Andriesse, Amsterdam Solo
1985Het AvondmaalGrote of Jacobijnenkerk, Leeuwarden Group
1985Wat Amsterdam betreft (As far as Amsterdam goes)Sedelijk Museum, AmsterdamGroup
1985Vijftien kunstenaarsStedelijk van Abbemuseum, EindhovenGroup
1985René Daniels, Marlene Dumas, Henk VischBarbara Jandrig Galerie, KrefeldGroup
1984Ons Land Lickt Lager Dan De ZeeCentraal Museum, Utrecht Solo
1984The Artist as a Young GirlGalerie Flatland, Utrecht Solo
1984Private Symbol: Social Metaphor (5th Biennial of Sydney)Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney Group
1984ParaventsSchloss Lörsfeld, Kerpen Group
1983Unsatisfied DesireGalerie Paul Andriesse, Amsterdam Solo
1983Rainer Fetting, Marlene Dumas, René Daniels. Walter DahnGalerie Helen van der Meij, AmsterdamGroup
1983Fourteen Artists from The Netherlands, a selection from Albert WaalkensMuseum Boymans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam Group
1983RestrisikoBonnefantenmuseum, MaastrichtGroup
1982Zeichnung Heute, 2. Inernationale Jugendbiennale + Meister der Zeichnung, RückblickKunsthalle Nürnberg, Nürnberg Group
1980Marlene DumasGalerie Lambelet, Basel Solo
1980The Critic SeesMuseum Fodor, Amsterdam Group
1979Marlene DumasGalerie Annemarie de Kruyff, Paris Solo
1978Atelier 15 (10 young artists)Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam Group
1977Marlene Dumas, Elisabeth de VaalEdelambachtshuis, GoudaGroup