Dumas disappoints


Reviews of Marlene Dumas’ major exhibition Marlene Dumas: Measuring Your Own Grave at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan have been less than sparkling, although reviewers in the Financial Times and the New York Times can’t agree on the problem.

md Dumas disappoints

FT: “Rather than organise the show chronologically, which would have thrown the poverty of Dumas’ imagination into relief, curator Connie Butler cleverly installed the work by theme.”

NYT: “One thing is certain: Ms. Butler has done Ms. Dumas no favors by installing her work thematically instead of chronologically. The arrangement creates the impression of an overlarge gallery show of works done over a few years. It is as if the museum didn’t want its stately sixth-floor galleries to feature anything but the mature, finished recognizable product.”

At least the reviewers did not attempt to assign a star rating to the show as other aesthetic anoraques do to brother Cornelis’ traditional Jacobsdal Pinotage. As one sighted wine guide noted “Jacobsdal received a fair amount of spin-off publicity following last year’s extended visit home by the world’s highest-paid (sic) living artist, Marlene Dumas. (One of her works sold for $3.34 million in 2005.)” The work in question was called the teacher (sub a) and Cornelis’ 2005 Pinotage is fittingly described as “old-school.”

One highlight of the NYT review was the focus on a portrait called Moshekwa. The subject is fellow SA artist Moshekwa Langa, a leading light in Linda Goodman’s stable, now owned by reclusive SA billionaire Jonathan Beare who made his money in the Netherlands, home to both Marlene and Moshekwa.

moshekwa Dumas disappoints