In her expressionistic drawings and paintings of the last three decades, acclaimed South African artist Marlene Dumas has focused on the human figure, probing themes of love, desire, despair and confusion in order to slyly critique social and political attitudes toward women, children, people of color and others who have historically been victimized. From her evocative portraits, based on photographs of friends and family as well as figures culled from printed pornography, to her large-scale images highlighting charged relationships within groups, Dumas’ work explores the contradictions behind the physical reality of the body, merging acute social commentary with personal experience and art-historical antecedent to create unsettling and ambiguous psychological statements.
Accompanying Dumas’ first major mid-career survey in the U.S., with stops in three major American cities, (one yet to be announced) this substantial, fully-illustrated publication features a newly commissioned essay by renowned scholar Richard Shiff, placing the artist’s work in relation to both American figurative painting since the 1980s and Abstract Expressionism. The book also includes curator Cornelia H. Butler’s examination of Dumas’ photographic sources and shorter texts by Lisa Gabrielle Mark and Matthew Monahan. Writings by the artist, as well as an extensive illustrated exhibition history and bibliography, complete this comprehensive examination of the work of one of the most thought-provoking artists working today.
Born in Capetown, South Africa, in 1953, Marlene Dumas has lived in Amsterdam since 1976. Over the last three decades she has had numerous solo exhibitions throughout Europe and the U.S., including the Tate Gallery, London; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. In 1995 she represented The Netherlands at the 46th Venice Biennale.