Marlene Dumas - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session New York Tuesday, May 16, 2023 | Phillips

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  • “Both series [Pin-Ups and Young Boys] present fantasized images of the sexual body that remains eternally out of reach. The figures reflect this as hazy shapes, fleeting shadows, elusive phantasms. [The series] Wolkenkieker carries it to an extreme. The portraits of such sex idols as Pamela Anderson (Morning Dew, 1997), Cicciolina (Silverplate Staller, 1997) and Mae West (West, 1997) are dissolved in luminous reflective ink pools, sometimes mixed with metallic powder, as intangible as a cloud of perfume. Aren’t love and sex the only glimpse of heaven we mortals ever get?”
    —Dominic van den Boogerd

    Pin-Up by Marlene Dumas

    Can pin-ups still survive in a pornographic age?
    Somehow just like marriage and prisons they still do.


    The pin-up is of American/English origin. As is the word ‘sexy’. It dates from somewhere around the beginning of the century. In Europe there were more pornographic pictures. These didn’t exist in America. As a very young girl I drew those cheerful clichés, copied from comic strips and cartoons. I often drew them on the backs of cigarette packets of friends who came to visit my parents. I made these sketches very quickly and they turned out differently every time, yet somehow the same. And so everyone was very impressed and assured me that I was destined for the arts.

    A classic pin-up is primarily fantasy and never actually intended to be touched or possessed.

    I always wanted a sailor.
    So I could long for him
    while he’s gone.
    And be happy when he comes.

    Soft-core yet tough.
    Pink puff
    hot stuff
    she’s had enough.


    With regret for the fact
    that ‘sexy’ also implies something stupid
    and the fine arts avoid that
    in favour of the ‘erotic’.
    I’ve always felt related to those places
    where the pin-up feels at home.
    And I thank all those nameless artists
    who’ve given us the real pin-ups.


    The preceding text can be found in Marlene Dumas, Sweet Nothings: Notes and Text, New York, 2015 and online.

    • Provenance

      Produzentengalerie, Hamburg
      Private Collection, Essen
      Zwirner & Wirth, New York
      Private Collection
      Christie's, London, June 26, 2013, lot 215
      Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Lisbon, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Centro de Arte Moderna José de Azeredo Perdigão, Marlene Dumas: Fantasma, May 1998, p. 15 (illustrated)
      Paris, Centre national d'art et de culture Georges Pompidou; New York, The New Museum of Contemporary Art; Tilburg, De Pont Stichting voor Hedendaagse Kunst, Marlene Dumas: Nom de Personne/Name no Names, October 11, 2001–September 29, 2002, no. 59, pp. 25, 114 (illustrated, p. 87)
      New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Marlene Dumas: Measuring Your Own Grave, December 14, 2008–February 16, 2009, p. 166 (illustrated)

    • Literature

      Marlene Dumas, London, 1999, p. 78 (illustrated, p. 137)



signed, titled and dated "West. M Dumas 1997" lower left
ink wash, watercolor and metallic acrylic on paper
49 1/4 x 27 1/2 in. (125 x 70 cm)
Executed in 1997.

Full Cataloguing

$150,000 - 200,000 

Sold for $177,800

Contact Specialist

Patrizia Koenig
Specialist, Head of Sale, Afternoon Session
+1 212 940 1279

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session

New York Auction 16 May 2023