Thursday, January 05, 2006

my ongoing monitoring of the critical response to the work of Marlene Dumas

Wow, another dismissive Marlene Dumas slam by Jerry Saltz -

"the below-average overhyped painter Marlene Dumas"

This follows "the second-rate Marlene Dumas" here (Artnet, 5/30/05), and "the flat-footed ways they're painted leave me completely cold" in a very brief mention of her work here (Art in America, 10/1994).

What is with these side-swipes? Has he ever actually reviewed any of her shows?

I saw Jerry Saltz in Miami when I was sitting outside of Scope. He very quickly came down the street (to my left) and went into the Scope hotel, was in there for maybe half an hour, then came back out and walked/ran on his cellphone down toward the beach. He was like the uber-epitome of the adrenaline-addled spectator he talks about here discussing art fairs -

"adrenaline-addled spectacles for a kind of buying and selling where intimacy, conviction, patience, and focused looking, not to mention looking again, are essentially nonexistent"

Maybe that was some kind of family-emergency phone call or something but if I hadn't known it was him I'd have thought he was some rabid collector, certainly not an art critic. I wouldn't call Saltz a "below-average" art critic, only because the bar is sooo fucking low, but except for his glib dislike of Dumas he is wildly inconsistent with his denouncing, celebrating same, denouncing, celebrating same. He is easy to read but tiresome.

Charlie Finch, Tyler Green, Richard Polsky, Jerry Saltz - four guys that aren't artists and don't like the work of Marlene Dumas.

Nicole Davis, Nicole Eisenmann, Joy Garnett, Cynthia King, Sarah Milroy, Adrian Searle, Barry Schwabsky, Richard Vine, Carol Vogel - some people that like Marlene Dumas.

Previous posts with some good Marlene Dumas comments here and here.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you, Mr. B. Check out Dave Cohen's take on Dumas:

She depicts bodies with an angst-free urgency at once perfunctory and precise, bolshy and endearing. She recalls moderns like Münch and the less known but quite marvelous Nordic expressionist, Helene Schjerfbeck, as well as more contemporary figures like Beuys (his watercolors) and Ms. Dumas’ junior, the Belgian Luc Tuymans.

I saw the Tuymans resemblance at once. I also saw a Fischl relationship, but would prefer Dumas' more ambiguous content approach to Fischl's studied, sometimes Freudian narratives, which, for my money, are rather played-out.

Cohen continues:

Her nonchalant yet gestural style — at once washed out and voluptuous,— actually resembles Mr. Fischl’s work in the late 1980s when, working out of Emil Nolde, he turned to monotype printmaking. The slick, squidgy eroticism of those sequential images, arguably his most likeable if intellectually his least ambitious works, coupled with their “blaxploitation,” and knowingly subversive appropriation of primitivism made him a kind of painterly cousin to Ms. Dumas.

Anonymous said...

gender bias, for sure. nobody talks about the "paint thinness" in a luc tuymans for example,and when a mediocre male artists work command millions, nobody bats an eye. sorry folks, its all about bias bias bias. but WHEN will it stop?????? we see it all day everyday day in the art world, and even when people of prominence mention gender bias, nobody still does anything. There are a lot of great artists, women and men, a lot of women who are not given the time of day in comparison to their male peers, women who show in galleries, etc. have careers etc. but still are considered "nothing".

Martin said...

Bill - Thanks for the David Cohen link.

Maybe it is gender bias, I don't know, if anything it looks like some weird Artnet clique thing.

Here is a good new blog by an angry woman artist, she is reporting all the possible gender bias stuff -


Why be anonymous though?

Edna said...

Yeah, I know. To be anonymous is kind of sneaky - but you see, my day job is a conflict of interests - and I'd surely get fired for the shit I say about the state of the art world. I chalk it up to being female that I even have to work AT ALL... I should be gov't-subsidized and working in the studio full-time.

Final thought: (and please don't take offense)... I think Marlene Dumas is TOTALLY OVERRATED.

Love ya though

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