Marlene Dumas. Chlorosis (Love sick). 1994

Marlene Dumas Chlorosis (Love sick) 1994

  • Not on view

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.
Medium
Ink, gouache, and acrylic on twenty-four sheets of paper
Dimensions
Each: 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
© 2021 Marlene Dumas
Department
Drawings and Prints

Installation views

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at [email protected].

Licensing

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit https://www.moma.org/research-and-learning/circulating-film.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].

Feedback

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].