From the South of France to Philly: Jennifer Bartlett Steps Back Into the Spotlight

It seems the painter is having a moment. The artist, who came to prominence in the 1970s, has seen a recent resurgence with a packed schedule of museum exhibitions and gallery shows, including a touring retrospective organized by Parrish Art Museum on Long Island—where the artist has long kept a home and studio—that recently ended its run.
This season, the art world continues to place a spotlight on Bartlett, who is the subject of two new shows, each of which looks at a different side of the artist’s prolific career. Opening Sept. 7th, the Cleveland Museum of Art’s exhibition “Epic Systems: Three Monumental Paintings by Jennifer Bartlett” brings together three of the artist’s massive room installation plate works, including the career-defining Rhapsody (1975–76) and two more recent pieces.
With their conceptual underpinnings and grid pattern, these call to mind another of the artist’s works that will be on display this fall: the multi-paneled In the Garden II, #1 from 1980, part of the exhibition “Jennifer Bartlett: In the Garden” at Philadelphia’s Locks Gallery. The exhibition explores the early-’80s series of the same name, featuring lush oils depicting a wide range of views of the overgrown garden and dilapidated pool of a rented house in France.  
The series was inspired by a trip to Nice, where Bartlett created more than 200 drawings of the property from different perspectives. She also approaches her subject from different conceptual angles and through a variety styles, in oil paintings that alternately look like a dramatically lit snapshot with a blown-out flash (as in Dog and Cat, 1983) or a loose,  landscape (as in Shadow, 1984).
Heather Corcoran
Jennifer Bartlett: In the Garden” is on view at Locks Gallery, Philadelphia, Aug. 1 – Sept. 27, 2014.