Marlene Dumas is a painter known for depicting the human figure. She often questions the representation of women. A woman herself, frequently painting female nudes, she is conscious of her position within the history of art. In Barbie she portrays an idealized female stereotype found in mass culture, the Barbie doll. But in Dumas' representation it includes critique: here Barbie is vapid and empty. This exemplifies Dumas' view of the doll and its possibly negative role model for women. The thin layers and dashes of colour imbue the portrait with a haunting quality, as if it were an apparition or a ghost, which emphasizes Barbie's hollowness. The image can additionally be considered a portrait of Barbie's psyche. This portrayal thus shows an 'ideal beauty' as well as a lack of character. This differs from a traditional portrait, which attempts to convey a sitter's unique personality. The emptiness and false idealism together compose the conception of the Barbie doll in society.
© M. Dumas 2005

Makers

Collection

Prints

Production date

1997

Library

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Dimensions

50.2 x 38.2cm.

Material

lithograph on paper

Object number

1997.1.0191