One of Marlene Dumas's most distinguished series of work revolves around Magdalena. In the paintings related to this subject the artist combined images of two well-known personages: Mary Magdalene and the supermodel Naomi Campbell. Mary Magdalene is a metaphor of female sexuality in western art. Dumas commented: 'I use religious subjects as I use fairy-tale figures, in order to give my audience an easy starting point, a popular reference that relates to all times and that is familiar to most people'. Naomi Campbell can be viewed as a contemporary Mary Magdalene for her ubiquitous modelling work flaunting her sex appeal. In Magdalena (Newman's Zip) Dumas brings together a representation of the standing figure with abstract modern art by referring to Barnett Newman's signature "zip", which is a vertical band that divides his canvas. In this painting the figure's long hair, which obscures her naked body, is a formal allusion to Newman's zip.
© Marlene Dumas




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300.5 x 101.5cm.


oil on canvas

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schenking Stichting Vrienden van het Stedelijk Museum / gift of the Stichting Vrienden van het Stedelijk Museum

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