Group show: Ana Mendieta and Hannah Wilke in 'Delirious: Art at the Limits of Reason, 1950-1980', The Met, New York

12 September 2017 – 14 January 2018


In the decades after World War II, artists developed a taste for the delirious. A great many painters, sculptors, performers and videographers were mad for madness, crazy about craziness, and generally excited by all things absurd compulsive, eccentric, aberrant, and unstable. Bookended by the years 1950 and 1980, Delirious surveys a moment when the delight with delirium reached its peak in Europe, Latin America, and the United States. The exhibition will demonstrate a shared commitment to irrationality among disparate, seemingly incompatible bodies of work. Linked by a common desire to confound reason, the art featured in Delirious simultaneously simulates and stimulates delirium, some through the use of nonsensical language, others through excessive repetition, the deformation of human bodies, and the convolution of space and perception. Delirious includes roughly one hundred works of art by sixty-three artists. About a third of the checklist is drawn from the Met’s collection. Grounded in primary research, Delirious reconstructs a historical debate of great importance, one in which artists participated alongside authors, critics, and philosophers. Delirious is the first exhibition to consider the fascination with irrationality holistically and to ground it in contemporaneous social and political events. It will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue.


Curated by Kelly Baum, Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon Polsky Curator of Contemporary Art


Met Breuer
945 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10021