by Steven Litt
Locks Gallery is pleased to present the installation of Jennifer Bartlett's major work, Sea Wall. Exhibited in her fifteen-year traveling retrospective in 1985, Bartlett’s piece encompasses three canvases and over a dozen sculptural elements - from houses to boats to stepping stones - stretching over thirty-five feet in length.
After the artist's renowned In The Garden series (1980-83), Bartlett worked on a commission for Volvo the following year which first began the incorporation of three-dimensional elements into her practice. Sea Wall remains an essential part of the New Image movement of the 1980s that heralded a return to subject and imagery in contemporary painting—a movement in which Jennifer Bartlett was a central figure.
In archival footage from the Walker Art Center’s 1985 survey of the artist, newly turned into a video experience of Sea Wall at Locks Gallery by Greenhouse Media, Bartlett muses on her then-recent inclusion of the multitude of various objects within her exhibition. The survey, beginning at Walker Art Center, traveled to four distinct locations between ‘85-86, including the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, MO, The Brooklyn Museum, NY, La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, CA, and the Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, PA.
In Sea Wall, the artist’s desire to make a place for her painting is paramount. The question of site is addressed by Jennifer Bartlett conceptually and abstractly, as the objects comprise a scene that further complicates the subject matter of the painting. Sea Wall tells a story and paints a portrait; a portrait of the artist as a landscape, of sorts — a composite of the built environment.
Find the installation online, or in Philadelphia by appointment only at Locks Gallery.
Jennifer Losch Bartlett (b. Long Beach, CA, 1941) received her B.A. from Mills College, CA, and her B.F.A. (1964) and M.F.A. (1965) from Yale University. Her works are in over one hundred museum collections. In 1985, the Walker Art Center organized a major retrospective of Bartlett's work, which included Rhapsody, works from the In The Garden series, from The Creek series and Sea Wall. The retrospective also traveled to the Brooklyn Museum in New York, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCASD) in La Jolla. In 2015, Bartlett was the focus of an exhibition and monograph entitled Epic Systems: Three Monumental Paintings at the Cleveland Museum of Art and Hospital at the Drawing Center, NY in 2016. Her recent retrospective History of the Universe, curated by Klaus Ottman traveled to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, PA and Parrish Art Museum, NY, with an accompanying catalog. Other solo exhibitions have taken place at the Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; The Brooklyn Museum, NY; The Tate Gallery, London, England; Baltimore Art Museum, MD; and The Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT.