Behind the Curtain



New paintings by Mamma Andersson.


Mamma Andersson, Stays, 2014, oil on panel, 39 3/8″ x 56 3/8″. Courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London

Mamma Andersson’s new exhibition “Behind the Curtain” opens tomorrow at David Zwirner. Andersson, who was born in Sweden and lives in Stockholm, paints with a muted palette—she tends to draw from old photographs and films, theater sets, and well-preserved interiors. There’s a look-but-don’t-touch quality to her subjects, as if she’s visited some quiet museum, or snuck backstage, and has decided to flout the no-photography policy by simply painting the view instead. And so what should feel aloof or antiquated feels intimate, almost even illicit. These are things we’re used to seeing at a remove or covered in dust: busts, stays, thrones. Looking at her paintings reminds me of that voguish phrase, secret history, that’s cropped up in dozens of titles and subtitles lately.

“All of us who’ve become artists, musicians, poets, dancers, film directors—God knows what—we were all once children who loved to delve into our other ego, where anarchy and limitlessness reigns,” she told BOMB in 2007: “If (healthy) schizophrenia can keep capitalism at bay, maybe we all should be much more schizophrenic than we are. I think it’s nice to be muddled.”

“Behind the Curtain” is at David Zwirner through February 14.


Mamma Andersson, Deadheads, 2014, oil on panel, 39 3/8″ x 49 1/4″ x 7/8″. Courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London



Mamma Andersson, Le Charme Discret de la Bourgeoisie, 2014, oil on panel 49 1/4″ x 59 1/8″. Courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London



Mamma Andersson, Mimicry, 2014, oil on panel, 49 1/4″ x 39 3/8″. courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London



Mamma Andersson, Ceremony, 2014, oil and acrylic on panel, 43 3/8″ x 38 1/4″. Courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London

Dan Piepenbring is the web editor of The Paris Review.