Collage aus verschiedenen, gemalten Totenköpfen
© Marlene Dumas, Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner, New York

Marlene Dumas. Skulls


On the occasion of the design of the altarpiece for the Annenkirche Dresden, the Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen Dresden honour the artist's commitment to the city with two exhibitions in the Albertinum and the Kupferstich-Kabinett.

  • DATES 19/10/2017—14/01/2018


Marlene Dumas (*1953 in Cape Town, South Africa )  is one of the most important painters of our time. Her main interest is the human image. In her paintings and drawings, she avoids anecdotal details or atmospheric foregrounds or backgrounds. Instead, she reduces them until the existential constitution of her figures becomes visible. She prefers the term "situation" for a moment that is immediately touching. Suffering, pain, desire, life, death – Dumas always renders visible the ambivalence of each image, of each feeling. Like a projection surface, her painting mirrors fears and hopes.

Blick in den Kirchenraum der Annenkirche Dresden in weiß gehalten mit Altarbild von Marlene Dumas
© Foto: Lothar Sprenger
Altarbild für die Annenkirche, Dresden Marlene Dumas mit Jan Andriesse und Bert Boogaard, 2014–2017


Like many of her series, "Skulls" (2011-2015) on display in the Albertinum, is a conceptual work as the impact of the series as a whole is achieved in the sum of varying single images. For Marlene Dumas, as a painter interested in the human condition, the skull motif is fundamental. Hung as a frieze, the work invites viewers to approach the skulls individually, to observe and study them in their singularity and to recognise, eventually, the universal condition that affects every person existentially. Also in the Albertinum, works are on display by Jan Andriesse and Bert Boogaard who collaborated with Dumas on the Annenkirche altarpiece. The presentation provides insight into the individual creative activities of both artists.

Dumas' work often refers to art historical motifs as well as political and social issues. Her portraiture reflects on the complexities of the image and the ambiguous status of painting in visual culture today. Variation as method-perhaps this is the best way to describe her work. She shows us how meaning has become fragmented, which characterizes our current times.

The exhibtion was curated by Kathleen Reinhardt and Holger Birkholz. 

Collage aus verschiedenen, gemalten Totenköpfen
© Marlene Dumas, Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner, New York
Marlene Dumas, Skulls, 2011-2015 Oil on canvas

Installation Views


Marlene Dumas, born in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1953, has been living and working in Amsterdam for over 40 years and is among the most significant artists working today. In her drawings and paintings, she transforms the existential experiences of human life-such as love, death, power and powerlessness-into vivid pictures. These works are loosely based on photographs, yet Dumas does not depict people but images of people. Her main interest is the portrait.


The Kupferstich-Kabinett presents "Marlene Dumas. Hope and Fear" parallel to this exhibition.

Marlene Dumas. Hope and Fear

Frauenportrait, Tuschezeichnung auf Papier
© Marlene Dumas, Repro: Peter Cox, Eindhoven
Marlene Dumas, Rejects, seit 1994 fortlaufende Serie lavierte Tusche und Mischtechnik auf Papier

partners and sponsors

 links: weißen Wappen auf blauen Untergrund, rechts: Schriftzug Königreich der Niederlande

Exhibition list

Further Exhibitions

Josef-Hegenbarth Archiv

in Josef-Hegenbarth-Archive

19/10/2017 —14/01/2018

Käthe Kollwitz in Dresden

in Residenzschloss

Selbstportrait von Käthe Kollwitz
To top