Marlene Dumas


Can pin-ups still survive in a pornographic age?
Somehow just like marriage and prisons they still do.

The pin-up is of American/English origin. As is the word ‘sexy’. It dates from somewhere around the beginning of the century. In Europe there were more pornographic pictures. These didn’t exist in America. As a very young girl I drew those cheerful clichés, copied from comic strips and cartoons. I often drew them on the backs of cigarette packets of friends who came to visit my parents. I made these sketches very quickly and they turned out differently every time, yet somehow the same. And so everyone was very impressed and assured me that I was destined for the arts.

A classic pin-up is primarily fantasy and never actually intended to be touched or possessed.

I always wanted a sailor.
So I could long for him
while he’s gone.
And be happy when he comes.

Soft-core yet tough.
Pink puff
hot stuff
she’s had enough.

With regret for the fact
that ‘sexy’ also implies something stupid
and the fine arts avoid that
in favour of the ‘erotic’.
I’ve always felt related to those places
where the pin-up feels at home.
And I thank all those nameless artists
who’ve given us the real pin-ups.

Pin-Up. Originally published in Pin-Up (cat.), Stedelijk Museum Het Toreke, Tienen, 1996; and included in Marlene Dumas, Sweet Nothings. Notes and Texts, first edition Galerie Paul Andriesse and De Balie Publishers Amsterdam, 1998; and second edition (revised and expanded) Koenig Books London, 2014.