Marlene Dumas

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Marlene Dumas
Marlene Dumas.jpg
Dumas in 2018
Born3 August 1953[1]
Cape Town, South Africa
Known forPainting
AwardsRolf Schock Prize in Visual Arts (2011)[2]
Narutowicz. the President, 1922 by Marlene Dumas, 2012

Marlene Dumas (born 3 August 1953) is a South African artist and painter currently based in the Netherlands.[3][4]

Life and work[edit]

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.[5][1] Dumas witnessed the system of Apartheid during her childhood. 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.[6][7] 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.[8] She studied psychology at the University of Amsterdam in 1979 and 1980.[3] She currently lives and works in the Netherlands and is one of the country's most prolific artists.[9]

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.[10]

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.[11] With many of her paintings she depicts her friends, models, and prominent political figures.[12]

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.[13] Dumas style is more older Romanticism tradition. She uses loose brushstrokes to add distortion but also great detail to her art.[14] Dumas likes to use a wet-on-wet technique, that combines thin layers of paint with thick ones.[15] 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.[16]

The sale of Dumas's Jule-die Vrou (1985), positioned Dumas as one of three living female artists to trade for over $1 million.[17]

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).[18]

Dumas' work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art[19] and Dordrechts Museum.[20] Her work was included in the 2022 exhibition Women Painting Women at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.[21]


Dumas was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Antwerp. She also holds degrees from the University of Cape Town, from Ateliers 63 in Haarlem and the Institute of Psychology, University of Amsterdam.[22]


  1. ^ a b Deborah Solomon (15 June 2008). Figuring Marlene Dumas. The New York Times Magazine. Accessed July 2018.
  2. ^ "Marlene Dumas wins prestigious prize". Channel24. 3 November 2011. Archived from the original on 10 December 2019. Retrieved 10 December 2019.
  3. ^ a b Johnson, Cecile (2003). "Dumas, Marlene". Oxford Art Online. doi:10.1093/gao/9781884446054.article.T024001. ISBN 978-1-884446-05-4.
  4. ^ "Marlene Dumas Pushes the Limits of Portraiture". artnet News. 4 February 2015. Retrieved 1 March 2020.
  5. ^ Christopher Bagley (1 June 2008). Dutch Master. W. Accessed July 2018.
  6. ^ Phaidon (2019). Great women artists. Phaidon Press. p. 127. ISBN 978-0714878775.
  7. ^ "Marlene Dumas Biography, Life & Quotes". The Art Story. Retrieved 29 February 2020.
  8. ^ Kino, Carol (27 March 2005). "Marlene Dumas's Number Comes Up". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 1 March 2020.
  9. ^ "Who is Marlene Dumas?". Tate. Retrieved 29 February 2020.
  10. ^ "David Zwirner Books · Marlene Dumas". David Zwirner Books. Retrieved 29 February 2020.
  11. ^ Robert Ayers (29 November 2006), Marlene Dumas, ARTINFO, retrieved 23 April 2008
  12. ^ "Marlene Dumas | artnet". Retrieved 29 February 2020.
  13. ^ Mary Horlock (11 June 1997). "Artist biography; Marlene Dumas". Tate. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
  14. ^ Kit-Messham-Muir (20 February 2015). "'You start with the image'; Marlene Dumas at the Tate Modern". The Conversation. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
  15. ^ Michalska, Magda (7 February 2018). "Intimate But Estranging Portraits By Marlene Dumas". - Art History Stories. Retrieved 29 February 2020.
  16. ^ Tate. "Who is Marlene Dumas?". Tate. Retrieved 29 February 2020.
  17. ^ Sarah Thornton (2 November 2009). Seven days in the art world. New York. ISBN 9780393337129. OCLC 489232834.
  18. ^ "Biography of Marlene Dumas". Retrieved 29 February 2020.
  19. ^ "Marlene Dumas". The Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved 14 May 2022.
  20. ^ "Marlene Dumas" (in Dutch). Dordrechts Museum.
  21. ^ "Women Painting Women". Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Retrieved 14 May 2022.
  22. ^ "Marlene Dumas". Archived from the original on 29 February 2020. Retrieved 29 February 2020.

Further reading[edit]

  • Selma Klein Essink, Marcel Vos and Jan Debbaut, Miss Interpreted, exhibition catalogue, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, 1992
  • Jonathan Hutchinson, Chlorosis, exhibition catalogue, The Dougles Hyde Gallery, Dublin, 1994
  • Catherine Kinley, Marlene Dumas, exhibition broadsheet, Tate Gallery, London, 1996
  • Gianni Romano, Suspect, Skira, Milan, 2003
  • Cornelia Butler, Marlene Dumas: painter as witness, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 2008
  • Ilaria Bonacossa, Dominic van den Boogerd, Barbara Bloom and Mariuccia Casadio, Marlene Dumas, Phaidon Press, London, 2009
  • Neal Benezra and Olga M. Viso, Distemper: Dissonant Themes in the Art of the 1990s. Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C. 1996

External links[edit]