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  • Provenance

    Galerie Paul Andriesse, Amsterdam
    Sale: Phillips de Pury & Co., New York, Contemporary Art Part II, November 17, 2006, lot 134
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Literature

    D. van den Boogerd, B. Bloom and M. Casadio, eds., Marlene Dumas, London 1999, p. 60 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Marlene Dumas’s work intrigues the viewer of the complex nature of the resistance it offers. Not only does it resist a description of its painterly and formal properties, owing to the subtlety and calculated randomness of the application of paint, but the ambiguity of the work’s content also resists interpretation. It must also be said that no account of this painter’s work can ever be exhaustive, because each painting is a unique, fused amalgam of expressive marks on the canvas, bursting with all kinds of autobiographical, socio-critical, psychological, ethical, biblical, cultural, and folkloristic references. (M. van Niekerk, ‘Mass for The Painter’, Marlene Dumas \ Intimate Relations, South Africa, 2007, p.111)

  • Artist Biography

    Marlene Dumas

    South African • 1953

    Marlene Dumas was born in Cape Town, South Africa, and raised on her family’s vineyard in the countryside. After beginning her art degree at the University of Cape Town, she decided to continue her studies in the Netherlands: the country where she’d build her career as an artist, and still lives today. In 1995, she represented the Netherlands at the Venice Biennale. 

    Dumas is best known as a painter, using both oil and watercolor. She typically works from a reference photograph, which could be purchased, from her own camera roll or collected from print media. Her work focuses on the human body, and though figurative, she often distorts her subjects with loose, painterly brushstrokes to make plain their emotional state. Deeply influenced by growing up during Apartheid, Dumas’ work centers around themes of repression, misogyny, violence and sexuality. Today, Dumas is one of the most expensive living female artists at auction, with her work first selling for over $1 million in 2004. 

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Before Birth

oil on canvas
19 5/8 x 15 5/8 in. (49.8 x 39.7 cm)
Signed, titled, and dated "before birth, M Dumas, 1989" on the reverse.

$120,000 - 180,000 

Contemporary Art Day Sale

Contemporary Art Day
11 May 2012
New York