Jennifer Bartlett

Paula Cooper Gallery | 529 West 21st Street

I entered Jennifer Bartlett’s show expecting marvels. The newspaper critics had gone wild, writing of Bartlett’s ambition, energy, and verve; the exhibition had been described in the Village Voice as a “show-stopping, drop-dead extravaganza.” Those words had set me salivating, avid for esthetic innovation. What I found in its stead was a variation on a tired Modernist theme: change the medium—fiddle with paint, surface, or support—and the style is inevitably altered.

Bartlett pursues this inquiry with impressive tenacity. Her strategy consists in taking two landscape motifs, one riverine (“Up the Creek”), the other seaside (“To the Island”), and putting each through ten variations. River rocks and palm-edged sands are painted in oil on canvas and oil on mirror, in enamel on glass or on metal plates, on papier collé, and more. They are painted on independent objects as well as wall-bound

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