Born near Capetown, Marlene Dumas spent her childhood in Kuilsrivier, South Africa where her family owned a winery. Although her native tongue was Afrikaans she attended University of Cape Town’s Michaelis School of Fine Art, an English speaking school, and obtained her Bachelor of Fine Arts in the mid 1970’s. Dumas then received a scholarship and moved to the Netherlands where she now resides in Amsterdam.
Photography had the greatest impact on her work during her earlier years. Marlene Dumas work included images such as photographs, collages, drawings and text. Her first exhibition was in 1978 at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.
Marlene Dumas has received many awards and honors for her work. She received the Sandberg Prize in 1989 and the David Roell Prize/Prince Bernhard Cultural Prize for Visual Arts and the Coutts Contemporary Art Award in 1998. Dumas also received an Honorary Doctorate from the Faculty of Humanities, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa in 2010 and in 2011 she was awarded the Rolf Shock Prize in the Visual Arts in Stockholm. Another recent honor was being awarded the Dutch State Prize for the Arts, the Johannes Vermeer Award, in 2012.