May 19 - July 29, 2017
Hauser & Wirth presents ‘Mercy Hospital’, a collection of drawings by Ida Applebroog executed during a period of intense introspection in 1969 and 1970. Discovered by Applebroog’s studio assistant in 2009, these deeply personal works on paper are now considered to anticipate the artist’s painting and drawing practice – disconcerting scenarios that address the politics of power and sexuality – that brought her notoriety in New York in the 1970s. In 1969, Applebroog was struggling with her mental health and became increasingly withdrawn from the world; the drawings helped negotiate her return. As scholar Jo Applin remarks, ‘The Mercy Hospital drawings allowed her to draw herself back to life, back to herself, leading from catastrophic breakdown to a creative, personal and political breakthrough.’ Not only does this body of work serve as a record of the visual vocabulary of psychological crisis, but also belongs to the long history of art created at a moment of ‘breakdown’, a period very often linked with creative ‘breakthrough’. ‘Mercy Hospital’ was first shown at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami FL in 2016 where it was accompanied by a catalogue featuring an essay by Applin.
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A self-proclaimed ‘generic artist’ and an ‘image scavenger,’ painter and feminist pioneer Ida Applebroog spent the past six decades conducting a sustained inquiry into the polemics of human relations. She explored themes of violence and power, gender politics, women’s sexuality and domestic space using images stylistically reminiscent of comics, at once beguiling and disturbing.