Artist
Marlene Dumas
South African artist

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Marlene Dumas
South African artist
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Date of Birth

August 03, 1953

More about Marlene Dumas

svdgrift's picture

Contributor

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 contemporary South African artist and painter currently based in the Netherlands.

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. Dumas began painting in 1973 and showed her political concerns and reflections on her identity as a white woman of Afrikaans descent in South Africa. She studied art at the University of Cape Town from 1972 to 1975, and then at Ateliers '63 in Haarlem, which is now located in Amsterdam. She studied psychology at the University of Amsterdam in 1979 and 1980. She currently lives and works in the Netherlands and is one of the country's most prolific artists. She is also widely regarded as one of the most influential painters working today.

Dumas has also featured in some films, Miss Interpreted (1997), Alice Neel (2007), Kentridge and Dumas in Conversation (2009), The Future is Now! (2011), and Screwed (2017). Several books included illustrations by Dumas,- Marlene Dumas: Myths and Mortals, Venus and Adonis, David Zwirner: 25 Years, Marlene Dumas: Against the Wall, Marlene Dumas: Sweet Nothings, Marlene Dumas: The Image as Burden, Marlene Dumas: Measuring Your Own Grave, Experiments with Truth: Gandhi and Images of Violence.

Dumas often uses reference material of polaroid photographs of her friends and lovers, whilst she also references magazines and pornographic material. She 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. With many of her paintings she depicts her friends, models, and prominent political figures.

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. Dumas likes to use a wet-on-wet technique, that combines thin layers of paint with thick ones. Her media of choice is oil on canvas and ink on paper. Her subjects range from new born babies, models, strippers, and many figures from popular culture.

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 taught at the Academie voor Beeldende Vorming (ABV) in Tilburg, Academie voor Kunst en Industrie (AKI) in Enschede, Rijksakademie Van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam, and De Ateliers in Amsterdam (Tutorials and Coaching).

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Marlene Dumas.