Dumas lives and works in the Netherlands, but was born and raised in South Africa in the days of apartheid. Her many-layered figurative pictures reflect political and personal experiences and are full of art-historical references. Dumas’ work is characterised by a sensual painting technique that only focuses on the most essential aspects. Her works touch on complex themes that range from segregation and eroticism to more general ones, such as love and war. Dumas often takes inspiration from photos in the newspapers and magazines she keeps in her enormous archive of images.

For Marlene Dumas, Snow White is no longer the innocent girl from the fairytale. Although the skin of this naked woman in Snow White in the wrong story is still an intense white, she appears to be more aware of the strange looks to which she is exposing herself. In any case, her nakedness is not glamorised here. Snow White is lying in a box that is too small, with two women’s heads to her left and right, and a small figure – a dwarf or a child – in the foreground. Dumas’ works invite interpretation, even more so because she gives them suggestive titles. “Titles direct the eye”, she says.


  • Title: Snowwhite in the wrong Story
  • Creator: Marlene Dumas
  • Date: 1988
  • Physical Dimensions: 100 x 300 cm
  • Provenance: Loan collection Eyck. ©Marlene Dumas, Peter Cox/Bonnefantenmuseum
  • Medium: oil on canvas

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