Artist
Marlene Dumas
South African artist

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Marlene Dumas
South African artist
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Birth Date

August 03, 1953

svdgrift's picture

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Unlike her fellow dutch students, Marlene Dumas was still fascinated by porn and prostitutes.

Marlene grew up on a vineyard near Stellenbosch, a university town a little east of Cape Town, South Africa. Her parents had no idea she was such an artistic genius. They might have thought she was a little eccentric, at most. When the Dumas family would visit the Kruger National Park (one of Africa’s largest game reserves) Marlene would be drawing, rather than looking at the animals. At her boarding school in Stellenbosch she was punished for acting “unladylike”, a.k.a. she didn’t like to do “womenly” stuff like sewing. Misogyny much? She would also go to school barefoot, wearing her dads dressing gown. The only good thing about this school was that they had art as a subject.

While attending the University of Cape Town Marlene relocated to the University Amsterdam to study painting and psychology. Marlene chose the Dutchland for a few different reasons. First of all, she thought she could speak Dutch. Somehow many people think Dutch and Afrikaans is basically the same language, so once and for all people, it’s not! Also, she didn't choose to go to NYC because it seemed “too big and ambitious”. A third reason was that London wasn’t an option. Her friends and family hated the English because they were South Africa’s former colonial power. So yeah, apparently Amsterdam was her 3rd choice.

Before moving to Amsterdam, Marlene was pretty unworldly. South Africa was under strict censorship and TV wouldn't arrive  until 1976, the year she moved away. Apartheid (a system of horrid racial segregation that would be enforced until 1994) was very much at its peak in South Africa and has always been a reoccurring theme in her paintings. For some time, Marlene felt that being a white South African was the worst thing anyone could be.

Since the early 80’s Marlene painted portraits, LOTS of portraits. Her most famous ones are those of people like Amy Winehouse, Naomi Campbell, and yes, Osama Bin Laden. Besides models and terrorists, she also painted her daughter Helena, both inside and outside the womb. Ok maybe not like literally inside the womb, but she did paint self-portraits while preggerz. She couldn't paint the legs though, not because of her big belly, but “it made it look like a bad Klimt." Whatever that may look like.

Marlene wears white surgical gloves while painting to protect her hands, but treats her beloved brushes like sh*t. You’ll find them soaking in a plastic cup full of water. “I have to talk to them like people talk to trees, and say 'forgive me,’ because this is not how you should treat these brushes.” After she turned 50, Marlene decided it was time to behave like a “pain in the ass“ during interviews. (Her words, not mine.) She felt like she deserved to be less friendly and more strict, just like Louise Bourgeois. Some might think that’s rude, but I say, “You go girl!”

Besides, she’s one of the world’s most successful living female artist, so why the hell should she care?

 

 

Featured Content

Here is what Wikipedia says about Marlene Dumas

Marlene Dumas (born 1953) is a South African artist and painter.

Life and work

Dumas was born in 1953 in Cape Town, South Africa, and grew up in Kuils River in the Western Cape, where her father had a vineyard. She studied art at the University of Cape Town from 1972 to 1975, and then at Ateliers '63 in Haarlem, in North Holland in the Netherlands. She studied psychology at the University of Amsterdam in 1979–1980.

She often uses reference material of polaroid photographs of her friends and lovers, whilst she also references magazines and pornographic material. Marlene Dumas also paints portraits of children and erotic scenes to impact the world of contemporary art. She has said that her works are better appreciated as originals since many of her smaller sexual works are very intimate.

Dumas paintings are seen as portraits but they do not represent people but an emotional state that one could be in. Her art focuses on more serious issues and themes such as sexuality and race, guilt and innocence, violence and tenderness. Dumas style is more older romanticism tradition. She uses loose brushstrokes to add distortion but also great detail to her art.

Her first major American museum exhibition, a midcareer retrospective entitled "Measuring Your Own Grave", opened in June 2008 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and moved to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

The sale of Dumas's Jule-die Vrou (1985), positioned Dumas as one of three living female artists to trade for over $1 million.

Dumas's paintings were exhibited at the 2003 Venice Biennale.

An exhibition of Dumas's paintings entitled 'The Image as Burden' was exhibited at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Holland from 6 September 2014- 4 January 2015.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Marlene Dumas.