Lessons in Gravity, 1984. Painted steel, 340 x 420 x 300 cm.

Geoffrey Bartlett: Neither Easy, Nor Complacent

Unquestionably one of Australia’s leading sculptors, Geoffrey Bartlett was recently honored by a major survey exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, in Melbourne. Using an astonishingly diverse range of materials, he has evolved a highly personal style—a style that has continued to develop from his early student works of the late 1970s, when he first came to prominence, to his most recent sculptures.

Bartlett’s visit to Storm King Art Center, shortly after he arrived in New York in 1983 to study at Columbia University on a Harkness scholarship, marked an early change in direction. Before this trip, he had known the sculpture of David Smith only from illustrations in books; confronted by the works themselves at Storm King, he experienced a certain disappointment. The decidedly frontal aspect of Smith’s sculpture struck Bartlett as a limitation, leading him to reassess his own work and move into the construction of decisively three-dimensional sculptures.