Marlene Dumas erotic painting on auction

Marlene Dumas is widely regarded as one of the most influential painters working today, she grew up on a wine farm in the Cape Town, South Africa, enjoying local schooling and university education before relocating to Amsterdam in 1976.

In 1995 Dumas represented the Netherlands in the Venice Biennale and in 1996 the Tate Gallery exhibited a selection of her works on paper.  In 2005, she held the distinction of achieving the highest price ever at auction for a woman when her 1987 painting, The Teacher sold at Christie’s London for £1.8 million. Her current high auction was set when ‘The Visitor‘ sold in 2008 for £3,177,250.

She has produced paintings, collages, drawings, prints and installations and now works mainly with oil on canvas and ink on paper. The sources she uses for her imagery are diverse and include newspaper and magazine cuttings, personal memorabilia, Flemish paintings, and polaroid photographs.

The majority of her works may be categorised as portraits, but they are not portraits in the traditional sense. Rather than representing an actual person, they represent an emotion or a state of mind. The themes central to her work include race and sexuality, guilt and innocence, violence and tenderness.

The ever-increasing global interest in art from Africa is changing the art market. To meet the growing demand, Aspire has partnered with Paris-based house Piasa, to introduce an Africa-focused auction that presents some of the best examples of modern and contemporary art produced on this continent.

This collaboration is unprecedented and represents the first time an African and European auction house have partnered to present a sale of African art, in Africa, for a global audience. The landmark auction: ‘Modern and Contemporary African Art’ takes place on 14th Friday 2020 at Oro Africa House in Cape Town.

The curated collection comprises 198 lots, featuring 139 artists representing 27 countries from Africa and the diaspora. While presenting a broader pan-African offering, it spotlights key collecting segments from 20th Century modernism to contemporary production and photography.

Dumas never before seen erotic painting on the market adorns the catalogue cover of the first joint landmark auction. She painted the Oktober 1973 when she was in second year at Cape Town’s Michaelis School of Fine Art during a time of local and global student uprisings seeking political and sexual liberation.

This remarkable work, a refreshingly candid painting of a naked woman in the throes of erotic pleasure, fearlessly addresses many of the social issues of its time.

This third painting ever offered on auction in South Africa and estimated at £160,000 – £260,000 (R3–5million), the work is set to attract significant interest. The large expanse of the pink torso with its green genitalia, pays homage to the powerful paintings of Pop artists like Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg. Its painterly exuberance echoes that of the abstract expressionists Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning who were exploring more gestural approaches.

However, it’s subject – erotic passion – was to become an abiding interest for the artist throughout her career. In many ways, this early painting prefigures later works such as those in her 2018 exhibition: Myths & Mortals at David Zwirner in New York.

Christophe Person of French auction house Piasa, says: ‘The South African market is one of the most dynamic on the continent. But until now collectors have been mostly focussed on local artists and less on art from other African countries. What is special about this new partnership between Aspire and Piasa is that it offers a pan-African vision of contemporary creation.’

Ruarc Peffers of Aspire, adds: ‘We are delighted to be working with Piasa who have made significant in roads into the contemporary African art market in Europe. Creating both depth and breadth geographically is one of the real excitements of this joint initiative.’


Image credit: Freepik