BO BARTLETT: AMERICAN ARTIST presents large-scale oil paintings that are figurative, psychologically imbued, beautifully rendered, and wonderfully sublime by one of the most significant American Realist painters of his generation.
Bo Bartlett is widely renowned for his multi-layered complex image making rooted in narrative, story telling, art history, literature, poetry, and every day life. Bartlett works in a long-established tradition in American painting that stretches from Thomas Eakins and Winslow Homer to Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth. Like these artists, Bartlett looks at America’s land and people to depict the beauty he finds in everyday life. His paintings celebrate the underlying epic nature of the commonplace and the personal significance of the extraordinary. Of Bartlett’s work, Andrew Wyeth wrote, “Bo Bartlett is very American. He is fresh, he’s gifted, and he’s what we need in this country. Bo is one of the very few I feel this strongly about.”
Additionally, with references to other American giants George Caleb Bingham, Robert Henri, John Singer Sargent, Thomas Cole, and Norman Rockwell, Bartlett likewise creates an image of time, place and individuality. And to add to this lineage, Bartlett’s work stunningly communicates a command of space, grace in gesture, and power in grandeur akin to European painters of history Goya, Delacroix, and Gericault. Bartlett hones figurative expression beyond history painting and beyond imitation and exactitude to place it in a highly conceptual endurance field; to play out, witness, and remember. His protagonists are of this world, observed in time—lone, isolated, afraid, confident, determined, longing—and rendered larger than life, in a manifestly American geography, yet are distilled in a quiet anticipation.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website
Whether you go or not, Bo Bartlett is the first mid-career retrospective of Bartlett's work. His accessible style and subject matter examine his personal, often epic explorations of family, his roots in the American South, home, water and the sea, beauty, life and death. This well-designed volume is the first full publication to document Bartlett's evolution as an artist, his personal creative process and to place his work in the context of the long-standing tradition of American realism. Publication is timed to celebrate the opening of the new Bo Bartlett Center in his hometown of Columbus, Georgia.