Born in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1953, Dumas has lived in Amsterdam since 1976. Though her art developed during a period marked by Conceptualism and neo-Expressionism, it steered its own course between the two.
Her paintings’ emotional charge and personal content
serve as counterpoints to an almost clinical presentation of the figure
— typically close-cropped and centered on an undefined ground — just as
her energetic brushstrokes play off her dispassionate source imagery,
ranging from newspaper clippings to Polaroids.
Dumas has exhibited internationally since the late 1970s, and her work
has been the subject of major solo exhibitions at museums such as the
Tate Gallery in London (1996), the Centre Pompidou in Paris (2001) and
the Museum of Modern Art in New York (2008). It has also been featured
around the world in major group exhibitions such as Documenta (1982,
1992) and biennials in Sydney (1984, 2000), São Paulo (1985),
Johannesburg (1995), Venice (1995, 2003, 2005) and Shanghai (2000).
In the SURVEY Dutch art critic Dominic van den Boogerd
examines Dumas’s work in relation to a range of conceptual legacies in
depictions of the human figure. For the INTERVIEW New York artist
Barbara Bloom discusses with Dumas issues ranging from intellectual
process to the representation of the self in art. Journalist and former
Editor of Vogue Italia Mariuccia Casadio looks at the painting Josephine
(1997) in the FOCUS, reflecting on the iconic legacy of its subject,
Josephine Baker. For her ARTIST’S CHOICE Dumas has selected two
authors: Oscar Wilde, whose story ‘The Fisherman and His Soul’ inspired
the artist’s early series of works on the theme of mermaids; and Jean
Genet, whose autobiography Le Journal du Voleur (1949, trans. Thief’s Journal,
1964) finds transgressive beauty in the criminal underworld. Marlene
Dumas has often acted as a spokesperson for her work, and ARTIST’S
WRITINGS features many seminal texts on her own art as well as
meditations on love, religion, politics and a discussion of Goya’s
painting The Fates. Ilaria Bonacossa’s UPDATE provides a
complete overview of Dumas’s recent paintings and drawings, charting
themes in each successive body of work from 1999 to the present.