Ida Applebroog: Mercy Hospital

28 February 2020 to 30 December 2020

Ida Applebroog: Mercy Hospital

Ida Applebroog (b. 1929) Mercy Hospital 1969© Ida Applebroog. Courtesy Hauser & Wirth

Ida Applebroog (b. 1929) Mercy Hospital 1969 © Ida Applebroog. Courtesy Hauser & Wirth

The Freud Museum is proud to present the drawings of American artist, Ida Applebroog, from her Mercy Hospital series.

In 2009, Ida Applebroog’s assistants found a box labelled “Mercy Hospital”, long forgotten by the artist. Inside were drawings executed during a period in 1969 when she was struggling with her mental health. She had checked herself into San Diego’s Mercy Hospital for six weeks where she had created over 100 drawings in sketchbooks. A number of these drawings will be on display in the Freud Museum London.

Ida Applebroog (b. 1929) Mercy Hospital 1969 © Ida Applebroog. Courtesy Hauser & Wirth

Born in 1929, Ida Applebroog is a pioneering feminist who addresses themes such as gender politics, sexual identity, violence, power and domestic space in her multimedia artworks. She has spent the past five decades conducting a sustained inquiry into the polemics of human relations. She has an instantly recognisable style of simplified human forms with bold outlines.

The artworks on display at the Freud Museum feature bold line drawings of human, animal and abstract figures with bursts of vibrant colours. They combine black Indian ink, pencil, watercolour and pastel. Many are annotated with questions and statements that load the works with additional readings, hinting at the artist’s fragile state of mind. The Museum’s unique space and history offers an intimate setting to appreciate and contemplate these small-scale works and the context in which they were created.

Ida Applebroog’s Mercy Hospital drawings have been accompanied by famous literary texts selected by the artist. They include Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper, a short story describing a woman’s experience of a nervous breakdown; Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis, highlighting Gregor Samsa’s experience of waking up as something other than himself; and Sigmund Freud’s clinical case studies, namely Little Hans and Dora.

Ida Applebroog: Mercy Hospital is organised by Barry Rosen in association with Hauser and Wirth




Ida Applebroog Mercy Hospital Freud Museum


Unheard Voices

Our ‘Unheard Voices‘ events season aims to illuminate the life and work of women whose stories have been stifled by history.

The season spans two major exhibitions at the Freud Museum: ‘Ida Applebroog: Mercy Hospital’ (28 February – 30 December 2020) and ‘Muriel Gardiner’ (TBC), both celebrated for challenging the structures of society and pushing boundaries in the name of activism.

Ida Applebroog: Mercy Hospital Press Coverage

Featured as one of the Royal Academy of Arts 10 art exhibitions to see in March

Tom Denman writes about the exhibition for Art Review.

A review on Burlington Contemporary by Maria Walsh.

Featured in Ham & High.

“It seems fitting that the drawings, which were made by Applebroog during a six-week stay on a mental health ward at Mercy Hospital, San Diego, when she was suffering from depression, should be exhibited in a museum dedicated to the founder of modern psychoanalysis.”Maria Walsh Burlington Contemporary

Exhibition Dates

28 February to 30 December 2020

Opening Times

Wednesday: 10:30 – 17:00
Saturday: 10:30 – 17:00
Sunday: 10:30 – 17:00

Tickets can now be booked online. Details on planning your visit and making a booking can be found on our Visit page.