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Soft pale tones depict a close up of African mandz head.

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  • Soft pale tones depict a close up of African mandz head.




Marlene Dumas
South African, born 1953

About this artwork

Since the early 1980s, Marlene Dumas has created figurative paintings and ink-wash drawings that raise provocative questions about gender, beauty, sexuality, race, and the resultant conditions of oppression and violence. The artist takes her images from the mass media, particularly newspapers and television, and she manipulates them to achieve her desired effect. Characterized by spontaneous brushwork and a subjective use of color, her works merge art-historical and popular-culture references with private, autobiographical allusions. As a white woman who was raised under Apartheid rule in South Africa, some of her strongest works tackle the complicated themes of racial politics. This representation of a black African albino exposes race as a social construct that fails to correspond to identity. By choosing a subject whose very existence complicates the notion of racial categorization, and by rendering his skin tone and hair color in a sickly green hue, Dumas insisted on destabilizing the division between black and white. This work ultimately questions the ability of both skin color and paint to carry meaning.


On View, Gallery 295


Contemporary Art


Marlene Dumas




South Africa (Artist's nationality)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Oil on canvas


130 × 110 cm (51 1/8 × 43 1/4 in.)

Credit Line

Through prior gift of Mary and Leigh Block

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


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