"Day-dreaming girl," ca. 1950
Molded, carved, painted plaster, natural hair wig, with two sets of original hand-made clothes
20” x 10 1/2” x 11” (with chair), 20” x 7” x 9” (without chair)
Baltimore, American Visionary Art Museum, Parenthood: An Art without a Manual, October 6, 2018 – September 1, 2019
Estate of the Artist
Private Collection, New York
Note: Daydreaming Girl is the only figure by Morton Bartlett that is not in an institutional or private collection. It has been on exhibition for the last year at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore as part of the exhibition Parenthood: An Art without a Manual.
Morton Bartlett, born in Chicago and adopted at age seven, created his own fantasy family - a superlative group of perfectly sculpted children, aged mainly 6 to 16, with wardrobes of meticulously hand-made clothes and specially constructed wigs. Dressed and posed, with interchangeable heads and limbs, they were then photographed in staged scenarios, at once both quotidian and dramatic; a child reading in bed, dancing in ballet class, at the beach or playfully scolding a toy dog. Bartlett worked obsessively from 1934 to 1963 to create this visual fiction. Each figure took over a year to complete, and was made only in order to be photographed. The photographs then became his reality: We know he showed them to select people while the actual dolls remained in closed hand-made wooden boxes in his home, wrapped and protected in Boston newspapers dated 1963. This remarkable body of work became known to the general public only after his death in 1992, when the sculptures and photographs were discovered at a New York antiques fair. Since then the works of Morton Bartlett have reached iconic status in both the Outsider and Contemporary Art fields with international exhibitions including, among others, The Hayward Gallery, London; The Venice Bienialle, Italy and Musee L’Art Brut, Lausanne, Switzerland. His work is in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; the Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA; the Collection de l’Art Brut Musée, Lausanne, Switzerland; and many other institutions. His life and work are the subject of two books: Morton Bartlett: Secret Universe III by Lee Kogan, Curator Emerita at New York’s American Folk Art Museum and Family Found by Marion Harris, also made into a short film.
Some restoration to painted surfaces. Repaired breaks to several fingers.
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