Marlene Dumas

Framing and Naming

Naming (a work) is important.
Framing (a work) is crucial.

I wanted to make many beautiful new works for my USA show
but in the end, I only painted a portrait of Marilyn Monroe.
The Monroe that died.

During the McCarthy hearings in 1954, Marilyn Monroe was
threatened. If she did not get Henri Miller to frame his colleagues,
she would never be heard of again.

In her last interview in Life Magazine (1962) she said:
‘Once I was supposed to be finished, that was the end of me.
When Mr. Miller was on trial for contempt of Congress,
he was told that either he named names and I got him
to name names or I was finished. I said “I’m proud of my
husband’s position. And I stand behind him all the way”’.

I never wanted to paint symbols.
I also never wanted a painting to be a symbol.
Jean Paul Sartre said it was out of cowardism
that we fell into the symbolic.
I’ve said, I paint because I am afraid
to be dead while still alive.

Framing and Naming. Written (together with Homage to the Polaroid, Measuring your own Grave, Southern Comfort, North Africa (Woman of Algiers), Beaches ain’t what they used to be and Expiring Dates) for and first published in Marlene Dumas, Measuring your own Grave, (cat.), The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 2008, p.261; and included in Marlene Dumas, Sweet Nothings. Notes and Texts, second edition (revised and expanded) Koenig Books London, 2014.