The National Portrait Gallery, London, has acquired a portrait of Amy Winehouse which will go on display today.
The painting, which was made shortly after the singer’s death in July 2011, was bought by the Gallery, with support from the Art Fund, the national fundraising charity for art.
Painted by the internationally-renowned artist Marlene Dumas (who has had solo exhibitions at Tate, Pompidou Centre and MoMA), Amy—Blue is an oil-on-canvas head study, scarcely larger than a sheet of A4 paper. Working primarily from photographic sources, her subjects are often portrayed at close-crop. Using a striking palette of mainly blue and black with hints of pink and white, the artist has chosen to focus tightly on the singer’s head so the viewer is drawn to the singer’s distinctive eyes and eye-liner. By simplifying the singer’s characteristic features in this way, Dumas has created an icon as well as a strong likeness.
The Amsterdam-based South African artist recalls being moved upon hearing of Winehouse’s death and afterwards searching through images of the singer on the internet. Like many of Dumas’s works, the portrait is commemorative, but it also presents a restoration of the subject in paint.
Since her death, her family has set up the Amy Winehouse Foundation, raising hundreds of thousands of pounds in her name to help disadvantaged young people, particularly those struggling with issues around drug and alcohol misuse.
www.amywinehousefoundation.org – @AmysFoundation – text AMY to 70007 to donate £3
Amy—Blue’ (Amy Winehouse) by Marlene Dumas, 2011 © Marlene Dumas