Mary Ellen Bartley is known for her photographs exploring the tactile and formal qualities of the printed book and its potential for abstraction. In her poetic minimalist images, the books’ contents are often hidden or only partially revealed, underscoring the tension between narrative and purely formal concerns. She has made projects in the private libraries of artists Robert Wilson, Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner, as well as Giorgio Morandi.
"I explore a single subject and follow where it takes me, one series leads to another quite organically. I’ve been exploring books of books, copies of copies and pictures of pictures." (Mary Ellen Bartley, extract from interview in DEEDS., 2020)
Born in New York in 1959, Bartley received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Purchase College, State University of New York, and currently lives in Sag Harbor, NY. Her work has been shown in a number of exhibitions and institutions including The Queens Museum, NY; The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis Houston Center for Photography; The Watermill Center, NY. Mary Ellen Bartley has been visiting artist at MAMbo - Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna. She has been awarded several prestigious artists’ residencies in the past and is represented by Yancey Richardson Gallery in New York. Bartley's work was shown for the first time in Germany in a solo exhibition at Galerie Pugliese Levi as part of the European Month of Photography 2020.