Marlene Dumas: Myths & Mortals



ISBN: 9781941701997 Category:

Claire Messud, Marlene Dumas


The latest from the renowned painter-Marlene Dumas’s new works respond more than ever to the uncertainty and sensuality of the painting process itself. Allowing the structure of the canvases and the materiality of the paint greater freedom to inform the devel – opment of her compositions, the artist has likened the creation of these works to the act of falling in love: an unpredictable and open- ended process that is as filled with awkwardness and anxiety as it is with bliss and discovery.

Myths & Mortals documents a selection of new paintings-debuted in the spring of 2018 at David Zwirner, New York-ranging from monumental nude figures to intimately scaled canvases that present details of bodily parts and facial features. Several nearly ten-foot-tall paintings focus on individual figures, including a number of male and female nudes and a seemingly solemn bride, whose expression is obscured behind a floor-length veil. Like the Greek gods and goddesses, the figures in these paintings are at once larger than life and overwhelmingly human. The smaller-scale paintings-referred to by the artist as “erotic landscapes”-present a variety of fragmentary images: eyes, lips, nipples, or lovers locked in a kiss. Evident across all of these works is the artist’s uniquely sensitive treatment of the human form and her constantly evolving experimentation with color and texture.

Alongside these new paintings, Dumas presents an expansive series of thirty-two works on paper originally created for a Dutch translation of William Shakespeare’s narrative poem Venus & Adonis (1593) by Hafid Bouazza (2016). Myths & Mortals is accompanied by new scholarship on the artist by Claire Messud and a text by Dumas herself.

Additional information

Weight 942 g
Dimensions 20.6 x 30.6 cm
Publisher name David Zwirner Books
Publication date 1 June 2019
Number of pages 140
Format Hardback
Dimensions 20.6 x 30.6 cm
Weight 942 g


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Born in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1953, Marlene Dumas moved to Amsterdam in 1976, where she has since lived and worked. Dumas is widely regarded as one of the most influential painters working today. Over the past four decades, she has continuously probed the complexities of identity and representation in her work. Her paintings and drawings, often devoted to depictions of the human form, are typically culled from a vast archive of images collected by the artist, including art-historical materials, mass media sources, and personal snapshots of friends and family. Gestural, fluid, and frequently spectral, Dumas's works reframe and recontextualize her subjects, exploring the ambiguous and shifting boundaries between public and private selves. Claire Messud is an award-winning American novelist. The author of six works of fiction, including The Emperor's Children (2006), The Woman Upstairs (2013), and The Burning Girl (2017), Messud has received Guggenheim and Radcliffe fellowships and the Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.