Marlene Dumas

Artist Name:Marlene Dumas
Nationality:South African
Year of birth: 1953
Artist information:

Marlene Dumas was born in 1953 and grew up on a vineyard of her father in Kuils River, outside of Cape Town. Dumas was interested in art from an early age. She enrolled at the University of Cape Town’s Michaelis School of Fine Art in 1972. During this formative period she started to express her political concerns and reflections on her identity as a white, Afrikaans woman in apartheid South Africa in her drawings and paintings. She received her degree in 1975. She decided to move to the Netherlands, in part due to the similarities between Dutch and Afrikaans, around the time of the Soweto Uprising in 1976. Language is an important means of expression for Dumas in addition to her art, as can be noted in her artwork titles, texts and commentary.

The artist was awarded a two-year scholarship to enrol at the then Ateliers '63 in Haarlem, an artist-run studio program (it later relocated to Amsterdam as De Ateliers). Dumas studied psychology at the University of Amsterdam between 1979 and 1980. Since then she has shown extensively at many of the world’s leading museums, galleries and art institutions in group, solo and retrospective exhibitions. An overview of her work, Intimate Relations, was shown for the first time in South Africa at the Iziko National Gallery in Cape Town and the Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg between 2007 and 2008. Her work is represented in a wide array of important collections across the world. Dumas has also been conferred many prestigious awards and honours, and is widely regarded as one of the most influential painters working today.

The complexities of identity and representation are explored in Dumas’ work. Her subjects are depicted in gestural fluidity in uncertain contexts, exploring the ambiguous and shifting boundaries between public and private selves. The artist’s depictions of the human form are typically drawn from her vast archive of images, including art historical materials, mass media sources, and personal - often intimate - snapshots of friends and family.

Although Dumas has been a Dutch citizen since 1989, she retains a South African identity: “Someone once remarked that I could not be a South African artist and a Dutch artist, that I could not have it both ways. I don’t want it both ways. I want it more ways.”

For Dumas it is important that her work engages with the public in a long lasting and meaningful way. She is dedicated to the pursuit of communicating, teaching, sharing and deepening our understanding of the world through art.

See the publication about Dumas' work in the CCAC:

Marlene Dumas
The Benefit of the Doubt
CCAC# 0069

Marlene Dumas
The Benefit of the Doubt 1
CCAC# 0070a

Marlene Dumas
The Benefit of the Doubt 2
CCAC# 0070b

Marlene Dumas
The Benefit of the Doubt 3
CCAC# 0070c