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Jennifer Bartlett

(b. 1941)

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(1941– )

American painter, born in Long Beach, California. She was included in the important New Image Painting exhibition of 1978 with her painting installation Rhapsody (1975–6, MoMA, New York). This consists of 987 steel plates, silkscreened with a grid system, and then painted in baked enamel. The work, which stretches to over 150 feet in length, runs systematically through various combinations of images, forms, and styles. It starts with the basic shapes of circle, square, and triangle, which are combined in different ways and different scales, before figurative elements such as houses and trees are introduced. Her systematic approach was intended, she said, to put herself ‘in a position where taste is not an issue’. Her work anticipated the cultivation of stylistic pluralism which was a feature of the 1980s. Seeing the work once again in 1999 Marcia Vertrocq wrote that ‘Even though critical absolutism is largely a relic of the past, Bartlett's informed ecumenism remains no less liberating today’ (Art in America, April 1999). Bartlett has continued to use a grid format in her later work and mixed abstract and figurative modes.

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