“Jennifer Bartlett: History of the Universe—Works 1970–2011”

The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Museum
118-128 North Broad Street
June 27–October 13, 2013

Curated by Klaus Ottmann

When the Museum of Modern Art in New York exhibited Jennifer Bartlett’s epic Rhapsody, 1975–76, in its atrium in 2011, the piece’s 153 feet of 987 baked enamel steel plates more than held the space. Rhapsody is a joyful declaration of painterly concerns that cites almost every movement and method under MoMA’s roof. It’s also a diary of one year of work. A shared sense of monumental history and daily life pervades this four-decade survey (organized by the Parrish Art Museum), as well as its catalogue, which features an essay by Ottmann, an interview with the artist by Terrie Sultan, and an excerpt from Bartlett’s 1985 novel, History of the Universe. The twenty-two works on view include gridded land- and seascapes, expressive oil paintings, and recent language-based works. Above all, the exhibition promises to foreground Bartlett’s quiet dynamism: the way her marks breach their formalist structures to keep making.

Travels to the Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, NY, Apr. 27–July 13, 2014.