Oh Mr. Bartlett!

Many theories have been posited about the reclusive Morton Bartlett, the self-taught sculptor, photographer and student of childhood. Some say that his own early life was so lonely, he crafted the playmates he always wished he had. Perhaps his lifelike sculptures were meant to convey the quotidian emotions of living dolls, and their photographs the documentation. Perhaps.

His work is inclusive of many emotions and, one would say, desires. These children aren’t tots; rather they are on the cusp of adolescence. They haven’t yet become aware of the power of their sexuality, with the innocent flip of a hem or translucence of a blouse. Morton’s dolls are ripe with flirtation, of possibility, and yet, still children, unaware. Yet the viewer is quite aware. It is almost as if Morton Bartlett has made to viewer carry the burden of his shame; our viewing his absolution.


All photos from the
Julie Saul Gallery

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