Saturday, July 21, 2012

Morton Bartlett

The Morton Bartlett exhibit at the Hamburger Banhof Museum was everything I hoped it would be and more.  I first stumbled upon his work years ago in Chelsea. It was love at first sight. Bartlett's exquisitely hand crafted dolls, prepubescent girls and boys in finely tailored outfits he made for them, were staged in delightfully uncomfortable poses. Uncomfortable because you get the feeling the dolls aren't wearing underwear, or if they are, you can't help but suspect you are supposed to look up their skirts.

The eeriness continues. Bartlett poses and photographs them. I don't mean to tarnish them with my pervy interpretation,  because I really do think his work is fantastic. But there is an undercurrent of sexual tension which cannot be ignored. One could equally think that he was a loner trying to create an imaginary family. (In fact, the first catalog published by Marrion Harris in North Adams, Massachusetts was titled, 'Family Found".) Either way, it is impossible not to wonder.


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