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Marlene Dumas Palazzo Grassi

open-end: The Fluid Works of Marlene Dumas at Palazzo Grassi

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The Pinault Collection is presenting open-end,” a solo exhibition of Marlene Dumas, on view at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice now through August 1.

Dumas’s “open-end” is the artist’s first comprehensive solo show in Italy, curated in collaboration with Caroline Bourgeois. It brings together over 100 works from the Pinault Collection, international museums, and private collections, focusing on recent work created with the Venetian exhibition in mind, and broadened by a selection of paintings and drawings created as early as 1984. The title was Dumas’s choosing; it reflects both the openness of her work to ongoing interpretation and the opening of exhibition spaces to the public after lockdowns, while the ongoing pandemic invests “end” with a “fluid and melancholic” meaning. In both respects, Dumas said, “Where the work starts is not where it ends.”

Marlene Dumas Palazzo Grassi

Marlene Dumas, “Monica (L.),” 1996, in collaboration with Helena, daughter of Marlene Dumas, collection of the artist, photo by Peter Cox, Eindhoven, © Marlene Dumas.

The show retraces the founding themes of  the South African artist’s work at varied scales and rhythms: she studied fine arts under Apartheid, studied further in Europe and settled in Amsterdam, and ranged her portraits and figures from oil on canvas to ink on paper over the full spectrum of human emotion. She takes marked inspiration from newspaper, magazine, and film stills, working with what she called “second-hand images and first-hand emotions” regarding love and death, gender and race, violence and tenderness, innocence and blame. Thus, some figures at Palazzo Grassi are not exposed for the first time—having become public property—but return to their meaning indirectly, as painting beyond mere image. Dumas’s work, addressing these intense paradoxes of emotion, is based in an awareness that the unending flow of images by which we confront the word forms our ability to read the world. While moral questions of injustice, abandonment, and discrimination drive her, her work centralizes the awareness of these questions as experienced in and by the body.

Marlene Dumas Palazzo Grassi

Marlene Dumas, “Blindfolded,” 2002, private collection Thomas Koerfer, photo by Peter Cox, Eindhoven , © Marlene Dumas.

Marlene Dumas Palazzo Grassi

Marlene Dumas, “Betrayal,” 1994, private collection, courtesy of David Zwirner, photo by Emma Estwic, New York, © Marlene Dumas.

Marlene Dumas Palazzo Grassi

Installation view of “Marlene Dumas: open-end” at Palazzo Grassi, courtesy of the Pinault Collection.

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Kelly Wearstler

THE WINTER EXPERIENCE ISSUE
2023

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On April 23 Dior hosted a fundraising gala with Venetian Heritage, an organization dedicated to the restoration and preservation of Venetian art.

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