Sunday, May 13, 2012

Good and Bohemian: Marlene Dumas

Marlene Dumas, Couples 1994 oil on canvas, courtesy Zwirner & Wirth/
I don't know why I like paintings by Marlene Dumas so much. Her topics are ones I go out of my way to avoid in other forms of art: violence, sex, gender, economic and racial disparity, pornography, and death.

Maybe it's because the first one of her drawings I ever saw had a handwritten quote on it that read: "I won't have a pot plant. They all die on me." Or maybe it's because I suspect a glimpse of irony, a satiric vein that borders on humor, in all her works. Then there's the positive outlook I can feel winking at me from the darkest of pieces whenever Ive had the good fortune to stand in front of one at a museum or gallery. What!

In the end, I can't explain it. I can only share it. Here are a few of my favorite Marlene Dumas works: 

Jule-die Vrou, 1985,

Marlene Dumas, The Teacher, 1987, Oil on Canvas, Private Collection

A portrait of the artist by Hendrik Kerstens for The New York Times
The artist’s self-portrait Het Kwaad is Banaal (Evil is Banal), 1984, oil on canvas, 49 3/16” x 41 5/16”.  © 2008 Marlene Dumas, Van Abbemuseum Collection Eindhoven. Read More
Marlene Dumas How Low Can You Go? 2000,
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