Following on from my two previous posts, here is a third artist who’s work will be exhibited at The Alternative Guide to the Universe at the Hayward Gallery, London.
In 1936, at the age of 27, Morton Bartlett began the personal hobby that would hold his interest for the next 27 years: dollmaking. He had no formal training in sculpture, but by making use of books on anatomy and medical growth charts he was able to create, first in clay and then cast in plaster, at least 15 half-sized likenesses of children. Each doll took approximately a year to create and was hand painted in meticulous detail.
The dolls were made with detachable arms, legs and heads, allowing for a variety of different poses. They are accurately scaled, depicting his compulsive attention to detail. Bartlett took photos of the dolls in life-like situations, either nude or wearing hand-made clothes and created a photographic record of them which amounts to about 200 B&W photographic prints and 17 colour slides.
It is interesting to note that Bartlett first began to make his dolls in the same year that Hans Bellmer‘s book The Doll was published in Paris.
You may have guessed that this upcoming exhibition intrigues me and I am possibly looking forward to seeing Bartlett’s work the most. Why? Because I find it disturbing and unsettling. It turns my stomach and put me completely off my lunch yesterday. I am hoping that once I see his work my mind will change and I will warm to it.
I doubt it.