Jennifer Bartlett, the painter who in the 1960s opened up the Minimalist grid with infusions of color and disruptions to fixed procedures, is the subject of a retrospective opening Thursday at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
Curated by Klaus Ottmann, director of the Center for the Study of Modern Art and curator at large at the Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., "Jennifer Bartlett: History of the Universe—Works 1970-2011" (June 27-Oct. 13) includes 30 works in painting and sculpture.
In 1976, Bartlett (b. 1941) created her best-known work, Rhapsody, a painting installation comprising 987 of her signature enameled square metal plates. Shown at New York's Paula Cooper Gallery that year, the work wrapped around corners, broadening the possibilities for painting.
"But she didn't stop with the plate paintings," Ottmann told A.i.A. by phone this week. "She became very well known for them, but she continued to evolve and experiment with new ideas and new mediums."
Especially significant to Ottmann are two works, Boats and Double House (both 1987), which combine large canvases depicting the titular subjects with sculptures of the same subjects, placed before the painting, "as if they had stepped out of the canvas," Ottmann said.
"Those are the first works I saw of hers, shortly after I came to New York in 1983," Ottmann said. "They are very painterly—she's a terrific painter—and there's also a conceptual element. To me these are among the most important works in the show."
Also included are works from various series, such as the "Word paintings," begun in 2004, which feature short stories and dialogues inscribed onto the enameled plates; and the "Garden paintings," featuring views of houses, trees and foliage at Bartlett's homes in Amagansett, Long Island, and Brooklyn, New York.
The exhibition will travel to the Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, Long Island, and is curated by Klaus Ottmann, curator at the Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.