Morton Bartlett: Family Considered

September 9 - October 28, 2007

Members’ Preview Reception Saturday, September 8, 6 - 8 p.m.

The Danforth Museum of Art is pleased to present Morton Bartlett: Family Considered, an exhibition of selected work by self-taught Boston artist Morton Bartlett, which will be on view from September 9 through October 21, 2007. Although Bartlett’s work was recently shown at the Julie Saul Gallery in New York, and has been exhibited internationally, this is the first exhibit of his work in the Boston area.

About the Artist
Born in Chicago in 1909, Morton Bartlett was orphaned at the age of eight, but was adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Warren Goddard Bartlett of Cohasset, Massachusetts. The artist attended Boston Phillips Exeter Academy and then Harvard College, which he attended for two years before withdrawing at the start of the depression. In 1930, he began a series of jobs, including free lance photographer, and printer’s broker, interrupted by service in the Army during World War II. He never married, and did not study art in school. It is possible that, like many self-taught artists, he never intended his work to become public.

Morton Bartlett was a private man whose passion was creating a fantasy family - a superlative group of perfectly sculpted children, aged mainly 6 -16, wearing meticulously hand-made clothes and specially constructed wigs. Dressed and posed, they were then photographed in staged scenarios, at once both quotidian and dramatic: reading in bed, at ballet class, scolding a toy dog, smiling sweetly, crying in disappointment, simply sitting at home or playing on the beach.

This fantasy world crossed over into reality in 1963 when it became public, fleetingly, in a Yankee Magazine article. Although authorized by Bartlett himself, the attention and praise which followed surprised him, and led to this remarkable body of work being packed away, each child in its own container, to remain unseen for the next thirty years.

Still wrapped in 1963 newspapers, it was discovered by Marion Harris who made the work public again in 1993 with an exhibit and accompanying catalogue, FAMILY FOUND. Since then Bartlett's work has received wide acclaim, and with his work in major museums and private collections, the story seemed to be as complete as his family.

Recently, a group of original color slides by Morton Bartlett, discovered by a Californian collector, became available as contemporary prints through Julie Saul Gallery, New York. Never before seen in color, these large images mirror Bartlett's sculptures, amplifying not only the details of his work, but also our insight into it.

About the Exhibit
The Danforth Museum of Art is pleased to present 6 black and white archival reprints, 3 contemporary color prints, and one doll as part of the exhibition Morton Bartlett: Family Considered. These select works borrowed from a number of collectors, is the first time the artist’s work has been exhibited in the Boston area where he made his home.

Exhibition Press
“Art or obsession?” By Chris Bergeron, MetroWest Daily News, September 13, 2007
“Morton Bartlett: Family Considered,” a new exhibit at the Danforth Museum of Art, explores the controversial work of an artist who fashioned, posed, made clothes for and photographed sculptures of anatomically correct children. ... [Read more of the article]

Other Resources
"Doll, You Oughta Be in Pictures" By Roberta Smith, New York Times, August 8, 2007.

Morton Bartlett, Boy with Red Scarf, c. 1955/2006
Boy with Red Scarf, c. 1955/2006
modern chromogenic print
28 1/4 x 20" edition of 10

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