Ida Applebroog

Ida Applebroog was born in the Bronx, New York, in 1929. She attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and received an honorary doctorate from New School University/Parsons School of Design. Applebroog has been making pointed social commentary in the form of beguiling comic-like images for nearly half a century. She has developed an instantly recognizable style of simplified human forms with bold outlines. Anonymous “everyman” figures, anthropomorphized animals, and half-human/half-creature characters are featured players in the uncanny theater of her work.

Applebroog propels her paintings and drawings into the realm of installation by arranging and stacking canvases in space, exploding the frame-by-frame logic of comic book and film narrative into three-dimensional environments. In her most characteristic work, she combines popular imagery from everyday urban and domestic scenes, sometimes paired with curt texts, to skew otherwise banal images into anxious scenarios infused with a sense of irony and black humor. Strong themes in her work include gender and sexual identity, power struggles both political and personal, and the pernicious role of mass media in desensitizing the public to violence.

In addition to paintings, Applebroog has also created sculptures; artist’s books; several films (including a collaboration with her daughter, the artist Beth B); and animated shorts that appeared on the side of a moving truck and on a giant screen in Times Square. Applebroog has received many awards, including a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Achievement Award and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the College Art Association. Her work has been shown in many one-person exhibitions in the United States and abroad, including the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; and High Museum of Art, Atlanta; among others. Applebroog lived and worked in New York, where she passed away in November 2023.

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