Sunday, September 10, 2006

Morton Bartlett's Sculpted Family

Morton Bartlett 1932

I've been meaning to write about Morton Bartlett for a while now. Little-known while alive, except for an article in "Yankee Magazine" circa 1962, Morton Barlett was a reclusive Boston bachelor who made meticulously detailed, half-size, painted plaster figures of mostly teenage girls and a few boys. He also created and sewed outfits for each one and then documented his creations in realistic settings by taking B&W photos of them. The unique thing about his art was that these figures expressed complex emotions in their faces and gestures.

Marion Harris bought the 15 sculptures (carefully wrapped in newspapers) and 200 photographs which were found after his death in 1992 at the age of 83. She later published a book on this "folk" artist entitled "Family Found, The Lifetime Obsession of Morton Bartlett". This book is one of my favorite things and contains dozens of photos in color and B&W as well as 5 essays on the importance of this American artist.

The book can be purchased by writing to Marion Harris
She is an art and antiques dealer located in NYC.

More links can be found for this wonderful artist by googling "Morton Bartlett". There have been quite a few different articles written speculating about his motivation for his art...some assigning him a Lolita complex.

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