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"Heartland: The Paintings of Bo Bartlett"
2003-12-13 until 2004-03-31
Frye Art Museum
Seattle, WA, USA

In the decade since Andrew Wyeth issued that judgment on Bo Bartlett, the Frye Art Museum has kept close tabs on the career of this young American realist (as well as that of Jamie Wyeth). Now, opening on Dec. 13, the museum presents Heartland: The Paintings of Bo Bartlett, featuring a collection of thought-provoking and occasionally disturbing canvases by the Georgia-born American realist.

Bartlett’s powerful and engaging paintings fall well within the tradition of 20th-century American realism. Like American masters such as Thomas Eakins, Thomas Hart Benton and Andrew Wyeth, Bartlett has looked at the people and land around him and incorporated what is most familiar into his art. At the same time, Bartlett’s large-scale works often push the boundaries of realist tradition with surrealistic juxtapositions, multi-layered imagery and art historical references. Life, death, passage, memory and confrontation coexist easily in these worlds. The Bride, for example, portrays an unfolding drama. A woman in a wedding gown looks out at the viewer as she clutches the front of her dress to prevent it from falling off her shoulders, while at her feet lies the body of a man, perhaps the groom. Behind the bride is a painting that describes the biblical story of the angel stopping Abraham from sacrificing his son Isaac. Bartlett is a profoundly thoughtful and spiritual man who makes extraordinary events seem quite personal and ordinary everyday lives seem quite extraordinary.

Major funding for this exhibition and catalogue is made possible by friends in Columbus, Georgia. The exhibition originated in Columbus, then traveled to Greenville, South Carolina, and will continue on to Santa Barbara, California, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Bo Bartlett
Homecoming 1995,
Oil on linen,
94 x 135 x 3
Collection Columbus Museum,
Museum purchase made possible by Norman S. Rothschild in honor of his parents, Aleen and Irwin B. Rothschild


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