new-york

Jennifer Bartlett, Recitative (detail), 2009–10, enamel, silk screen, and baked enamel on 372 steel plates, overall 11' 2“ x 158' 3”.

Jennifer Bartlett

Pace | 32 East 57th Street

Jennifer Bartlett, Recitative (detail), 2009–10, enamel, silk screen, and baked enamel on 372 steel plates, overall 11' 2“ x 158' 3”.

Though I didn’t see Rhapsody, 1975–76, Jennifer Bartlett’s best-known installation, when it was first shown at Paula Cooper Gallery, I did see it some thirty years later, in 2006, at the Museum of Modern Art. Finally encountering the sprawling, epic work, which comprises nearly a thousand enamel-bearing metal plates, I suddenly—and even rather violently—had to reconfigure my own internalized images of it. Memories of the holistic photographic panoramas (and attendant detail shots) I’d found in books over the years yielded to the actual experience of tripping back and forth for closer and farther vantages, circling the work’s perimeter, starting again, being called back to earlier sections, and so forth. A dumb observation in a sense, but startlingly a visceral one: Rhapsody cannot be taken in all at once or, more importantly, in any way conclusively. Indeed, viewers must

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