Marlene Dumas: Measuring Your Own Grave

Marlene Dumas. Skull (of a Woman). 2005

Marlene Dumas. Skull (of a Woman). 2005

Oil on canvas, 43 5/16 x 51 3/16" (110 x 130 cm). Collection de Bruin-Heijn. © 2008 Marlene Dumas

Curator, Connie Butler: In 2006 Marlene Dumas exhibited a series of works called Mankind, that featured Mediterranean-looking men and boys and this painting, Skull of a Woman.

Artist, Marlene Dumas: Skull of a Woman was inspired by an article I had for a long time, about the skull of Charlotte Corday and she was a young woman who assassinated Marat, in the French Revolution.

So apparently, you know, after she was guillotined, they put her brain and the skull in a bottle and they did all kinds of examinations. And you see it in other political stories too, I mean real life stories, that the woman is still seen as a bit of strange creature.

This was one of the works where the painting comes closer to the drawing, because I used a method that I mostly use for my drawings. I threw the turpentine and the paint on to the canvas, and left it there to dry in its own patterns.

So that is why where, on the one hand, the skull is very graphic and also relates very tightly to the edges at the side, it's also almost like the cosmos in a mini-cosmos, because in the head the world seems to still float by a bit.

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