The Secret is among a group of paintings that were shown in the artist’s first solo exhibition in New York, at Jack Tilton Gallery in 1994. Titled Not From Here, the exhibition included images of pregnant women, infants, and toddlers—subjects that gained importance for Dumas in the late 1980s and early 1990s, around the time her daughter was born. Among these works, Cupid is in the collection of the Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, and The Painter—one of the artist's best-known works, which is currently on view in Venice—is a promised gift to The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Installation view, Not From Here, Jack Tilton Gallery, New York, 1994
Jack Tilton, Marlene Dumas, and Nicole Eisenman during the installation of Not From Here, Jack Tilton Gallery, New York, 1994
Writing in 1994 about the works in Not From Here, Dumas explains:
“In a time when we are so aware (or seem to be) of what happens in the world through TV, newspapers and other photobased mediums, painting that refers in one way or another to these issues steps into a whole arena of misunderstanding.... It is however a very exciting place to be in. Because painted human figures remain always imagined beings, that have their own peculiar features and psychology. They are closer to the world of ghosts and angels, daydreams and nightmares than to real people in the streets. In a sense they are always 'not from here'.... In my exhibition Not From Here there's black and white as races. And there's black and white as colors. There's pink bodies and dark blue faces. There's Black people who are yellow and white people who are dark and skins peeling off and eyes left out.”
Installation view, Marlene Dumas: Measuring Your Own Grave, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 2008. The Secret can be seen second from left.