In the winter of 1979–80, Jennifer Bartlett (b. 1941, Long Beach, California; d. 2022; Amagansett, Long Island, New York) traded homes with a writer friend who had rented a house with a small, run-down garden in Nice in Southern France. Staying there with her sister Julie during a dark and rainy winter with little else to do, she embarked on an ambitious freehand drawing project of 197 unique perspectives of “the awful little garden with its leaky ornamental pool and five dying cypress trees.”
The garden was among many subjects—including houses, mountains, trees, and the ocean—that Bartlett explored in her art. Trained at the Yale School of Art, she developed a style that combines mathematical systems with painterly expression, drawing from Post-Impressionism, Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism, and Conceptualism. She depicted several views of the same scene using an astounding range of techniques, styles, and media, including pencil, charcoal, ink, Conté crayon, watercolor, pastel, and gouache. Working from photographs and memory, she expanded the series to include paintings on steel plates, canvas, and even glass. Later known as In the Garden, the series spanning 1979 to 1983—a selection of which are presented in this exhibition—became one of Bartlett’s most ambitious works.
In and Out of the Garden serves as a complement to the concurrent exhibition Bonnard’s Worlds (March 2-June 2, 2024). Both Bartlett and Bonnard were avid gardeners, and their work reflects the profound connection they felt between art and nature.
IMAGE: Jennifer Bartlett, Wind, 1983, Oil on canvas, 5 panels, 85 x 300 in. overall, Private collection, Philadelphia
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This exhibition is organized by The Phillips Collection. The Phillips Collection would like to give a special thanks to The Paula Ballo Dailey Memorial Fund, Eric Richter and Charles Shoener, and the Ednah Root Foundation for their support of the early concept for this exhibition as an artistic dialogue between Jennifer Bartlett and Pierre Bonnard. Jennifer Bartlett & Pierre Bonnard: In and Out of the Garden was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and reconceived as the present solo exhibition.