Marlene Dumas

Marlene Dumas

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Marlene Dumas, The Painter, 1994. Oil on canvas. Museum of Modern Art, New York. © Marlene Dumas. Photo: Peter Cox.

September 5, 2014

Marlene Dumas
The Image as Burden

September 6, 2014–January 4, 2015

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
Museumplein 10
The Netherlands

The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam presents Marlene DumasThe Image as Burden, the most comprehensive retrospective survey in Europe of the artist to date, with almost 200 paintings and drawings from private and museum collections throughout the world.

Marlene Dumas—The Image as Burden presents a compelling overview of her oeuvre from the late 1970s to the present, containing her most important and iconic works, in conjunction with lesser-known paintings and drawings. The exhibition is organized by the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam in collaboration with Tate Modern, London (February 5–May 10, 2015) and Foundation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel (May 30–September 13, 2015).

Marlene Dumas (b. 1953, Cape Town, South Africa) is considered one of the most significant and influential painters working today. Her emotionally charged paintings and drawings address existentialist themes such as eroticism, grief, and shame while frequently referencing art-historical motifs and current political issues. Her work also reflects on new possible meanings that painting can still have today, in an era dominated by visual culture.

The title of the exhibition is derived from Dumas’s work The Image as Burden (1993), which refers to the conflict between the painterly gesture and the illusion of the painted image. Dumas draws a connection between the subject of the painting, a man carrying a woman in his arms, and the painter who carries the weight of her subject. The title also alludes to how an artwork can burden the viewer with its image. Dumas says, “I want to talk about what the painting does to the image, not what the image does to the painting.”

Dumas often finds inspiration in her large archive of magazine and newspaper photos. She believes that the endless stream of photographic images bombarding us every day influences how we see each other and the world around us. Dumas addresses this onslaught by revealing the psychological, social, and political aspects of these images.

The Stedelijk Museum has a longstanding relationship with Marlene Dumas. Her work was first exhibited at the Stedelijk in 1978; the museum has since added 39 drawings and paintings to its collection. In 2012, the Stedelijk acquired the controversial portrait Osama (2010). After the museum reopened that same year, it highlighted the importance of Dumas to the Stedelijk and the Netherlands with the creation of a “solo gallery” for the artist in the collection presentation. 

The Stedelijk Museum presentation features a number of special highlights, such as a gallery devoted to drawings that have come straight from her studio, which have rarely—if ever—been on public view, and the 100-piece series Models from the collection of the Van Abbemuseum. The survey at the Stedelijk also places greater emphasis on the works produced between 1976 and 1982, when Dumas’s career in Amsterdam began. 

After many years, a key work of her oeuvre, Love vs Death (1980), which opens the exhibition, is once again on display. Also included are a selection of Dumas’s most recent paintings, such as The Widow and Nuclear Family, both from 2013, and a number of watercolor drawings from the series Great Men (2014), the remainder of which is currently on view at Manifesta in St. Petersburg.

A special catalogue is published on the occasion of this unique exhibition, compiled by its three curators: Leontine Coelewij (Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam), Helen Sainsbury (Tate Modern), and Theodora Vischer (Fondation Beyeler). Structured around a strict chronology, it offers excellent insights into the development of Marlene Dumas’s oeuvre from the 1970s to the present day. The 196-page publication also contains writings by the artist, an in-depth interview with Dumas by Theodora Vischer, an essay by Leontine Coelewij, a text by Irish writer Colm Tóibín, and some 200 plates. The publication is designed by Dutch designer Roger Willems and published by Tate Publishing. The catalogue is available in three languages: Dutch, English, and German.

Public program
Throughout the exhibition period, the Stedelijk Museum presents a substantive program of activities in which the method and subject choices of Marlene Dumas are examined in the context of her contemporaries and other artists. In an in-depth program of lectures, interviews, and gallery talks, contemporary artists, art historians, and curators discuss how Dumas addresses specific themes such as death, the depiction of women, and the relationship between media images and painting, and her expressive paintings and drawings. Click here for an overview of the program.

The exhibition Marlene Dumas—The Image as Burden is made possible with the support of principal benefactor Stichting Ammodo and additional support from the VSBfonds, Mondrian Fund, the Straver Fonds—a named fund of the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, Stichting Zabawas, and the K.F. Hein Fonds. The Stedelijk Museum would like to express its sincere thanks to principal sponsor Rabobank Amsterdam for making this exhibition possible.

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Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
September 5, 2014

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