MoMA
Marlene Dumas. Chlorosis (Love sick). 1994
Marlene Dumas

Chlorosis (Love sick)

1994
Not on view
Medium
Ink, gouache, and synthetic polymer paint on paper
Dimensions
each sheet 26 x 19 1/2" (66.2 x 49.5 cm)
Credit
The Herbert and Nannette Rothschild Memorial Fund in memory of Judith Rothschild
Object number
720.1996.a-x
Copyright
© 2015 Marlene Dumas

South African artist Marlene Dumas based the twenty–four portraits comprising Chlorosis on Polaroid snapshots of people she knows and on newspaper clippings of strangers. Thin, exquisite washes of color suggest apparitions or psychic projections of internal states. The title of the work comes from the Greek word for light green, and describes an anemic disease marked by a characteristic green skin tone. Sometimes referred to as the virgin's disease, chlorosis was considered a sickness caused by the intense suffering provoked by unrequited love.

Gallery label from 2006
Additional text

In this multipaneled drawing, the twenty-four portraits, arranged in a nonhierarchical grid, resemble casual snapshots or Polaroid-like close-ups. The faces are both beautiful and disturbing; they avert their eyes and express longing, lethargy, and pleading. Their status as apparitions or psychic projections of internal states is emphasized by thin, exquisite washes of color. Certain elements of theatricality are recalled in Dumas's rendering of these phantomlike portraits as bloodless, pale shadows. They invite multiple layers of interpretation: the images are simultaneously distressing, fascinating, haunting, and equivocal. Their expressiveness results from the tension between the depicted, the concealed, and the implied.

Chlorosis has been referred to as an "image of collective desolation." Its title comes from the Greek word for light green and describes greensickness, an anemic disease mostly affecting pubescent females and marked by a characteristic green skin tone. Sometimes referred to as the virgin's disease, chlorosis was considered a sickness of sorrowful love, caused by the intense suffering provoked by unrequited love, and appears in several of Shakespeare's plays, including Romeo and Juliet.

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999, p. 338
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Image permissions

In order to effectively service requests for images, The Museum of Modern Art entrusts the licensing of images of works of art in its collections to the agencies Scala Archives and Art Resource. As MoMA’s representatives, these agencies supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum's imaging studios.

All requests to reproduce works of art from MoMA's collection within North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico) should be addressed directly to Art Resource at 536 Broadway, New York, New York 10012. Telephone (212) 505-8700; fax (212) 505-2053; requests@artres.com; artres.com. Requests from all other geographical locations should be addressed directly to Scala Group S.p.A., 62, via Chiantigiana, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli/Firenze, Italy. Telephone 39 055 6233 200; fax 39 055 641124; firenze@scalarchives.com; scalarchives.com.

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to text_permissions@moma.org.

Related links:
Outside North America: Scala Archives
North America: Art Resource