In the New York Times review of the Morton Bartlett exhibit
at Julie Saul gallery, Roberta Smith compared the artist, who created and photographed life-like dolls, to everyone from Lewis Carroll to Martín Ramírez. She failed, however, to mention the much closer similarities between Bartlett and Dare Wright, who created the "Lonely Doll" children books. (I've posted images of Wright's doll on the left, and Bartlett's on the right.) Both Bartlett and Wright were reclusive, solitary souls who made a make-believe other life of dolls and drama and trauma. Bartlett fashioned and photographed his creations between the '30 and '60s, while Wright published her books in the late '50s.
Bartlett's dolls are definitely more facially expressive than Wright's Lonely Doll; nevertheless, the Lonely Doll's stories have more an emotional impact than Bartlett's photos, perhaps because the books deal with those twined childhood fears of rejection and loneliness.
When stuffed animals are introduced into this doll-world, Wright portrays Mr. Bear as scolding the Lonely Doll, whereas Bartlett imagines one of his creations setting things straight with her animals. Another aspect I like about Wright's photos is her location shooting. Bartlett, on the other hand, captured his images in a much more controlled setting. (I've posted two evocative images of Lonely Doll on a NYC stoop and walking in Central Park with her buds.)
Labels: Art exhibits