Expressive Faces in the Crowd by Marlene Dumas

NEW YORK—There is a fine line between a foreboding, ghostly gaze and the wounded expression borne of a broken heart. Titled “Chlorosis (Love sick),” Marlene Dumas’s 24 pale color-washed portraits resemble the former but are intended to depict the latter. Nonetheless, love-lorn or otherwise, the works are deft character studies executed with a light hand.

The Museum of Modern Art describes the series as follows: “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.”

The installation is shown on view in the Contemporary wing of MoMA in July.

All photos © Arts Observer

“Chlorosis (Love sick),” 1994 (ink, gouache, and synthetic polymer paint on paper) by Marlene Dumas.

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