The 91-year-old painter, sculptor, filmmaker, and installation artist Ida Applebroog describes herself as an “image scavenger.” Her deep body of work appropriates all range of media, from her 1970s comic strip works, to her 1980s altarpiece constructions which reference Renaissance predellas and biblical narratives, to the “Marginalia” series of the 1990s, in which fragments of room-sized installations hint at dark psychological narratives. “Applebroog Birds,” now on view at Hauser & Wirth, continues that probing inquiry through a series of avian portraits teeming with pertinent political symbolism.
Begun in the wake of the 2016 election of Donald Trump with her “Angry Birds of America” series, Applebroog’s birds are eerie, apparitional, bloodless and taxidermied. One eye of the closely-cropped Portraits (Canary), rendered in translucent ink on mylar, oozes gorily down, recalling President Trump’s erratic tweets from the self-made cage of the White House. A portrait of a bald eagle, that most venerable of American symbols, accompanies a flock of dead and taxidermied birds—an Audubon-esque cataloguing of the state of American democracy in the last four years.
Ida Applebroog, Bluebird, 2018. Ultrachrome ink and gel on mylar, 22 5/8 x 42 1/2 inches. © Ida Applebroog. Photo: Emily Poole