Friday, December 19, 2008

Marlene Dumas at the MoMA

The New Yorker, December 22 & 29, 2008

Peter Schjeldahl writes on the Dumas exhibition at the MoMA:

There is a heaviness to the paintings of the South African-born, Dutch-based artist Marlene Dumas, as if they might fall off the wall and break the floor. And yet they are thinly brushed, for the most part, on ordinary canvases. There's a flypaper stickiness about them, too, though their usual surface is matte and dry. The impressions are emotional.


Her art rarely conveys feeling so much as excites it and then absorbs it, to the benefit of the work's authority. She doesn't give; she takes.


[Of "Stern" (2004), based on Gerhard Richter's "October 18, 1977" (1988), itself in turn based on photographs of the Baader-Meinhof militants] she drags the drama of a particularly haunting tragedy back to the secondhandedness of the photograph from the thirdhandedness of Richter's painting. By this and analogous uses of imagination, Dumas suggests, a life of feeling may be sustained in times that can seem engineered to crush it.

Artwork on

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