Review of ‘Marlene Dumas: The Image as Burden’ at Tate Modern

March 18, 2015 9:19 PM

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Review of ‘Marlene Dumas: The Image as Burden’ at Tate Modern

In 2001, when I was on a working trip to Paris, a perceptive French sculptor friend recommended an exhibition at the Centre Pompidou by Marlene Dumas—a name vaguely familiar to me, at the time, but unaccompanied, in my mental artists’ file, by an image. The show, mysteriously titled “Nom de Personne (Name No Names),” proved to be a works-on-paper retrospective—the artist’s first.

I was immediately captured by Ms. Dumas’s urgent, broadly handled works in ink and particularly impressed by the “portraits,” each with a distinctive appearance and personality, conjured up by an apparently infinite range of gestures, washes and marks. Despite the artist’s French name, these drawing...

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