it’s often easy to forget that the model which we base our museums on is not unlike that of any other business. therefore it follows that retrospective shows will necessarily include a number of mediocre works from an artist’s oeuvre.
i’m always game for a challenge and when faced with works that i dislike from acclaimed artists i seek out context and and less obvious elements that may illuminate the work to me. even if i fail at times i still try. it’s possibly my way to show respect to the artist.
in the case of marlene dumas’ show at the stedelijk in amsterdam, i was once more made aware of this fact and whether i blame it on curatorial error or museum policy, i couldn’t justify the reasoning for what i deemed to be a disparate selection of work made worse through its display.
while it is true of many artist that produce some very memorable work and a few like dumas who even succeed in creating iconic ones, the fact remains that there is usually so much that is of a less interesting nature.
marlene dumas has been one of my favourite artists for the longest time. being south african i’ve always had a keen loyalist eye for meritable work from the dark continent… even through her eighties obscurity. her seminal work indeed places her firmly amongst the top of my painters list. the exhibition succeeds however in fuelling my schadenfreude at the clients who opted out of my advice to buy her work in the late nineties but also disappoints in the way her stature as a prominent artist does not come across strongly enough to proclaim her true stature.