new-york

Jennifer Bartlett

Brooklyn Museum

The “problem” to come to terms with in an overview of Jennifer Bartlett’s career is the shift in sensibility that followed the “In the Garden” series (l980–ca. 1983). Up to that point, what had been most impressive about Bartlett was her imperious intellectual will. Recently less in evidence, it seems that the artist’s struggle for control has become subliminal and/or sporadic. Her more recent, multimedia series—“The Creek,” 1984, and “Luxembourg Garden,” 1985—present a deeper immersion in unmanipulated natural scene.

This is combined with a return to rudimentary sociocultural shapes that , unlike the basic image units-the enameled steel plates-of Rhapsody, 1975–76, seem to go backward in time, searching for lost innocence, rather than to function as the building blocks of a new, systematized narrative imagery like that in Rhapsody, which carried the viewer relentlessly forward to a climax.

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