Morton Bartlett


Morton Bartlett was a private man whose passion was creating a fantasy family - a superlative group of perfectly sculpted children, aged mainly 6 -16, wearing meticulously hand-made clothes and specially constructed wigs. Dressed and posed, they were then photographed in staged scenarios, at once both quotidian and dramatic: reading in bed, at ballet class, scolding a toy dog, smiling sweetly, crying in disappointment, simply sitting at home or playing on the beach.

This fantasy world crossed over into reality in 1963 when it became public, fleetingly, in a Yankee Magazine article. Although authorized by Bartlett himself, the attention and praise which followed surprised him, and led to this remarkable body of work being packed away, each child in its own container, to remain unseen for the next thirty years.

Still wrapped in 1963 newspapers, it was discovered by Marion Harris who made the work public again in 1993 with an exhibit and accompanying catalogue, FAMILY FOUND. Since then Bartlett's work has received wide acclaim, and with his work in major museums and private collections, the story seemed to be as complete as his family.

A group of original color slides by Morton Bartlett was discovered by a Californian collector who has produced the images as contemporary prints. These prints along with three of the sculptures and a selection of vintage black and white prints were included in The Sweethearts of Mr. Bartlett in 2007. Subsequently, Bartlett's work has reached a much wider audience through his first monographic exhibition held in 2012 at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin and the Musee d'art Brut in Lausanne, as well as being prominently featured in the Rosemary Trockel retrospective at the New Museum in 2012.

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