4th Mar, 2021 19:00

Modern & Contemporary Art

Lot 26
Lot 26 - Marlene  Dumas (South Africa 1953-)


± Marlene Dumas (South Africa 1953-)

oil on canvas

Signature details: inscribed with the title top right; accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist

Sold for R3,414,690
Estimated at R3,000,000 - R5,000,000


oil on canvas

Signature details: inscribed with the title top right; accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist


122 x 122 cm


Marlene Dumas’s Score is an extraordinary painting that forges youthful passion and the principles of Classical art into a dynamic statement about life, love and art. It was inspired by the central panel of Italian Renaissance artist, Andrea Mantegna’s The Adoration of the Magi, painted around 1460 and now in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.Dumas remembers painting Score during her years at the Michaelis School of Fine Art at the University of Cape Town, in response to an assignment by one of her lecturers[1]—perhaps the legendary teacher and artist, Stanley Pinker, whom she greatly admired. Instructed to choose a Classical painting for its composition and to transform it, Dumas chose Renaissance master, Mantegna. Retaining the original composition, Dumas has nevertheless radically re-interpreted the original by changing the content in profound ways. An erotic body is transposed into the holy cave, and where the Virgin was surrounded by angels, the artist has kissed the canvas with her own lips coated in fuchsia and red oil paint – an activity she likens to pilgrims kissing the feet of the saints. The title SCORE inscribed in red vibrates against its complementary green in the upper right, alluding to winning the game, sexual scoring or religious fervour. Her use of the word also acknowledges art historical precedents from Kurt Schwitters, the Cubists and Jasper Johns to Pop artists Richard Hamilton and Eduardo Paolozzi, who are amongst artists who introduced lettering or statements in their art.Dumas is widely regarded as one of the most influential painters working today. Her engagement with art history and her experiments with representations of the sexual body have drawn keen interest worldwide. Recent exhibitions have included paintings ranging from monumental figures to intimately scaled canvases presenting details of bodily parts and facial features.

Emma Bedford


[1] Email from the artist to Emma Bedford, 26 October 2020

[2] Ibid.

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Auction: Modern & Contemporary Art, 4th Mar, 2021

Aspire Art Auctions’ Cape Town sale proved that the market for African and international art continues to thrive despite the pandemic.

The top lot by value was Irma Stern’s Dahlias and fruit, one of the most outstanding paintings from her late period, which achieved an impressive R5,234,800. Marlene Dumas scored a sensational hit when her early painting, Score, sold for R3,414,000, and stellar results were also achieved for celebrated artists; William Kentridge, George Pemba, Gerard Sekoto and Peter Clarke, amongst others, with world records at auction set for contemporary artists Turiya Magadlela and Gerhard Marx.

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