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Marlene Dumas


Marlene Dumas (born August 3, 1953) is a South African born artist and painter who lives and works in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Stressing both the physical reality of the human body and its psychological value, Dumas tends to paint her subjects at the extreme fringes of life’s cycle, from birth to death, with a continual emphasis on classical modes of representation in Western art, such as the nude or the funerary portrait. By working within and also transgressing these traditional historical antecedents, Dumas uses the human figure as a means to critique contemporary ideas of racial, sexual, and social identity.  Working almost exclusively from photographic sources, Dumas draws her subject material from an ever-developing archive of personal snapshots, Polaroid photographs, and thousands of images torn from magazines and newspapers. A painting is never a literal rendition of a photographic source. For one painting, she may crop an original image, focusing on the figures in the far background of a photograph. For another she may adjust the color, using her characteristic palette of grays, blues, and reds. Dumas’s portraits remove subjects from their original context and strip them of any identifiable information.

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