More on the Marlene Dumas MoMA Show
Art critics seem to have a fascinating relationship toward Marlene Dumas and her painting. It’s neither approving, nor hostile. But there’s a longing to get to the bottom of it–one way or another. Peter Schjeldahl has a fascinating and wonderfully written take on the painter’s New York MoMA show in the New Yorker:
Dumas matters as one of a number of now middle-age painters who dealt with the apparent dead end of painting after modernism. A central figure, for her and for others, is Gerhard Richter, whose mournful and sarcastic work in many styles communicates two things: first, the dizziness of a freedom from ideas of historical necessity in art (when you can do whatever you like, why do anything?), and, second, the humiliation of a formerly exalted art by ever more proficient photographic mediums (why muck around with paint to express yourself, when clean machines stand ready?). Like Richter, Dumas confronts the problems head on by hewing, in paint, to the arbitrary givens of a photograph; in her case, photographs that she has found or has taken herself (usually Polaroids of people close to her). “Secondhand images,” she has said, can generate “firsthand emotions.” Painting for her, as for others of her generation, becomes a parasitic enterprise feeding on a world that is fat with fascinating and estranging visual information. Her creative act is part tribute to that profusion, part protest, and entirely corrective: in place of how something appears, she depicts how it appears to her.
Unpretty Pictures (New Yorker)