Racy Marlene Dumas Painting Won’t Travel to Tate Modern

Marlene Dumas, D-rection (1999).

When “Marlene Dumas: The Image as Burden” travels to London’s Tate Modern from the Stedelijk in Amsterdam next month, it will leave behind one of the exhibition’s raciest works, reports the Art Newspaper.

Considered the most significant show of Dumas’s work ever mounted in Europe, and the South African artist’s first major solo in 20 years in her adopted homeland of the Netherlands, “The Image as Burden” closed at the Stedelijk yesterday after a four-month run. The retrospective will be on view at the Tate through May, before closing out its yearlong run at its third and final venue, Basel’s Fondation Beyeler.

Titled D-rection, the 1999 painting depicts a man holding his erect penis. Reviewing the show in the winter issue of the magazine of the Royal Academy of Arts in London, art historian Simon Wilson suggests that the man is on the brink of ejaculation. He praises the risque work as “an affectionate and vivid realization of this everyday little miracle” that “is unique, I think, in the mainstream of Western art.”

D-rection, which appears in what Wilson describes as the “show’s most openly sexual section,” will be conspicuously absent in the show’s Tate incarnation. No word in the Art Newspaper on the reason for the work’s omission; perhaps the De Pont Museum, in Tilburg, Netherlands, which owns the painting, declined to loan the work to the overseas institution.


“Marlene Dumas: The Image as Burden” will appear at Tate Modern, London, February 5–May 10, and at the Fondation Beyeler, Basel, May 30–September 13.

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