“They get through, and then the pattern strangles them off and turns them upside-down, and makes their eyes white!” writes the protagonist of Charlotte Perkin Gilman’s 1892 short story, The Yellow Wallpaper. Suffering from “nervous depression,” she has been prescribed a rest cure and is largely confined to her room, where she not only furtively journals, but sees within the wallpaper a frenzy of imprisoned women (“in the very shady spots she just takes hold of the bars and shakes them hard”). The story, based on Gilman’s own experiences, is a foundational feminist and psychoanalytical text, and it remains relevant centuries later. In 1969, when the artist Ida Applebroog, a radical feminist, found herself in Mercy Hospital for the treatment of depression, she, like Gilman’s heroine, chronicled her experiences through art. Hundreds of sketches, on display alongside texts from The Yellow Wallpaper and Kafka’s Metamorphosis, speak to a fragile and fragmented state of mind, while embodying the artist’s relentless creativity. —C.J.F.
Freud Museum 20 Maresfield Gardens, London NW3 5SX, United Kingdom Get Directions »