Jennifer Bartlett, large-scale conceptual illustrator, dead at 81

Jennifer Bartlett, New York artist, whose conceptual paintings were executed on white enameled steel plates of one square foot (inspired by the city’s subway) thrived on Rhapsody, a landmark of painting over 153 feet tall, and died July 25 in her home In Amagansett, New York she was 81 years old.

Her death was jointly announced by her representatives in New York, the Paula Cooper Gallery and the Marianne Bosque Gallery.

Her daughter, Alice Carrier, said that while Ms Bartlett had dementia, the cause of death was acute myeloid leukemia, which was diagnosed in early July.

Mrs. Bartlett was an unrepentant dissenter who began as a marginal member of the post-minimalist generation, the Conceptual Art Department, devising mathematical or geometric systems that only needed to be implemented, without making other aesthetic decisions. She described this as “what if?” Approaching.

With Rhapsody, an important turning point in American art in the late twentieth century, Mrs. Bartlett combined the cerebral style of concepts with her medium of choice, painting—often to the dismay of artists on both sides of the painting/non-painting lane. . It also broke through the wall between abstraction and representation, as did painters such as Neal Jenny, Louis Lane, Susan Rothenberg, and Joe Zucker. But with Rhapsody, the break was epic, boisterous, and indulgent.

The work was first shown in 1976 at the Paula Cooper Gallery in Soho, with his 987 paintings occupying all available wall space. Later, to the astonishment of many, it seemed to be specially designed for the enormous lobby of the Museum of Modern Art, whose collection in 2005, a gift from the architect and collector, entered. Edward R. bruida.

“Rhapsody” review In the New York Times, English critic John Russell called it “the most ambitious new artwork that has come my way since I began living in New York.” She summarized aspects of pop art, minimalism, conceptual art and process, with art opening up anew for imagery, narrative, repetitive patterns, appropriation, and stark juxtaposition that continues to guide painting.

Her images span many styles, from photorealism to naive, with many modernist images in between. He explores line, form, and color as endings in themselves, while also laying out the simple themes that would occupy Mrs. Bartlett’s mind for the rest of her life: the tree, the mountain, the house and the ocean.

Each Rhapsody’s steel plate was printed with a grid of quarter-inch squares, to which she added points according to whatever system she set it up, sometimes with computer-sounding results.

She described the work as “conversational” – “meaning you start to explain something and then drift to another topic to explain by analogy and then come back.” But it’s noisy, full of interruptions and arguments, and everyone seems to be talking at once.

“Rhapsody” made Mrs. Bartlett a star, even though she was not universally loved. In fact, she had her own skepticism, especially since she didn’t see it complete until it was installed in Paula Cooper. Concerned, she told writer Calvin Tomkins of a 1985 profile in The New Yorker, working might be the worst idea she had ever had. The title “Rhapsody” suggested by a friend, she said, “was so terrible that I loved it.”

Mr. Tomkins quoted her as saying, “The word denotes something flowery and over-ambitious, which seemed subtle enough.”

She liked to recount, as she did in a 2011 oral history interview for the Archives of American Art, how a prominent New York curator said of her dotted surfaces, “This isn’t painting, it’s weaving.” (The words echoed Truman Capote’s rejection of Jack Kerouac’s “spontaneous” prose—“This is not writing, it is writing.”)

In New York in the ’70s and ’80s, Mrs. Bartlett was one of the first artists of her generation to live off her work, which she did sometimes lavishly and sometimes not – budget wasn’t part of her vocabulary – while often helping out friends and family members in need . She was also one of the first to work directly with out-of-town merchants rather than with her New York representatives.

When New York’s interest faded in the 1990s, it developed an extensive network of galleries in other cities, presenting dozens of shows of new work. At Locks Gallery in Philadelphia alone, she had more than 20 solo shows from 1994 to 2021, usually accompanied by catalogs.

Mrs. Bartlett stopped appearing in the Paula Cooper Show in 1996 for 20 years; During that time, she rarely exhibited in New York, and when she did, she often moved from one gallery to the next. Her work seemed more popular – and salable – outside the New York art world. In 2016, Ms. Bartlett resumed the show with Ms. Cooper, who joined Ms. Boskey in 2018.

Mrs. Bartlett was an elegant, stubborn, prolific artist. Although she spends a lot of time lying on the sofa with a cigarette and a drink in the other, she said she would go crazy if she couldn’t work. And the work she did: drawing, printmaking and drawing, especially in pastel colours, designing furniture, glassware and jewellery, with limited forays into decor and fashion design.

With all that said, I found time to read voraciously; conducting lengthy and entertaining interviews; writing an autobiographical novel, “The History of the Universe”; He played a major role in the redesign and furnishing of three large direct-action residences in New York City: two in Lower Manhattan – a grand loft on Lafayette Street and a cast-concrete industrial building on Charles Street (to which she added a complex garden designed with Madison Cox and a pool on the floor). upper)—and one in Brooklyn, a former Union Hall in Fort Greene, whose ampelous specimen tree garden featured large boulders trucked on a flat roof.

During her marriage to a German actor Matthew CarrierFrom 1983 to 1993, she lived half a year in a large Paris apartment – almost completely furnished to modern designs by a Finnish architect. Alvar Aalto – In a building where “Last Tango in Paris” was filmed, where I rarely failed to tell anyone who visited.

Mrs. Bartlett was as methodical in her life as in her art. Arriving in New York in the late 1960s, she eschewed bohemianism, and instead wore pearls, and tartan wool jacket and skirt sets, the plaids of which often appear in paintings as realistic nets. For a long time, starting in the late 1970s, she wore simple Zoran costumes, and later Ronaldos Shamask costumes. Almost without difference she wore her hair short or bobbed with bangs.

She liked the menus; Her several novels were included. Early in her career, she made lists of artistic ideas and then identified those she thought other artists “have.” She often spoke in brassy and ridiculous lists.

At the beginning of a 1985 interview, friend and fellow painter Mrs. Bartlett Elizabeth Murray, I asked her what was on her mind when they met in 1962 as a student at Mills College in Oakland, California. She replied, “Being an artist, Ed Bartlett, Bach wings cello, Cézanne, Going to graduate school, going to New York, Albert Camus, James Joyce.”

Jennifer Ann Loach was born in Long Beach, California, on March 14, 1941, to Edward and Joan (Chaffee) Luce. Her father was an entrepreneur whose main business was a pipeline construction company; Her mother had attended the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles and worked as a fashion illustrator until she had children.

Jennifer, the eldest of four, was in an early stage of maturity. She was constantly drawing, since childhood; I loved the ocean and swam in it regularly (I also painted great pictures of sea creatures); She found inspiration in her mother’s only art book, on French Post-Impressionism; And I was thrilled by the Van Gogh exhibition I saw in Los Angeles. I graduated from high school determined to be a painter.

After graduating from Mills in 1964, Mrs. Bartlett married Stanford alumnus Edward Bartlett, and the two went to Yale for graduate school, which is in medicine and she is in art. (They separated in 1972.) At Yale University’s Department of Art, current students, recent graduates, and their friends included some of the most ambitious and competitive artists of her generation: Bryce Marden, Richard Serra, Joel Shapiro, Chuck CloseLinda Bangle and Nancy Graves. After moving to Greene Street in SoHo in the late 1960s, she became friends with artists Joe Zucker, Jonathan Borofsky, and John Torreano, Joe Brainard and Alan Sarrett, who gave her first solo show in New York in a Spring Street loft.

When she arrives in New York, Mrs. Bartlett is inspired by pioneering conceptual art Sol Lewitt, were developing systems on graph paper, which usually deteriorate or wear out. One day it occurred to her that the New York City subway signs “withstood a lot of punishment,” she said in her archive interview. They suggested, she said, “a solid mesh sheet that was impervious.”

The 12-inch square panels based on signage have the added convenience of being small units that are easy to work with, pack and move, but can also withstand an enormous range when installed. She said she liked the lasting “freshness” of enameled steel; He will not physically age or look old. Once she worked on steel plate production with a small maker in New Jersey, she destroyed her previous plates.

Her grid paintings represented Mrs. Bartlett’s interest in the mechanics of painting, and she would use them for the rest of her life, as in two other epic pieces, “Recitative” (2007) and “Song” (2009-10).

It has also expanded its material. Her next big project after Rhapsody was In the Garden, a collection of nearly 200 drawings of a ramshackle garden behind a small villa in Nice, France, where she spent the winter of 1979-1980. These works became the basis for large canvases – on canvases, oil on canvas and enamel on glass – and many different types of prints.

“In the Garden” was also significant because Mrs. Bartlett worked from life, particularly her immediate surroundings, including, eventually, her studios, homes, and private gardens. The painting “Air: 24 Hours” 1991-1992 consists of 24 large panels, each depicting one of these locations at a particular hour of the day. She filmed her living spaces back in 1992-1993 with “24 Hours: Elegy,” which usually includes a dress or a toy belonging to her daughter. In these works, dense accumulations of hand-drawn grids create a grainy atmosphere reminiscent of those created by Georges Seurat’s points.

In 2012, several weeks of hospitalization – due to what her daughter Ms Carrier described, as “a series of symptoms that did not quite unite in diagnosis” – led to “Hospital Drawings”, an uncharacteristically realistic and stark set of 10 paintings. Each line is disrupted by an arbitrary thick line of color that runs from edge to edge.

In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Bartlett is survived by two sisters, Julie Loach Matsumoto and Jessica Ann Loach.

Confident and irresistibly independent, Mrs. Bartlett was often asked about her view of feminism, as she was in 2011 in the Archives of American Art. In that instance she replied, “I’m not naturally a feminist. I just wanted to be a better artist.”