New York artist Will Barnet had an esteemed eighty-year career. An artist renowned for his depictions of family and personal scenes, Barnet passed away at the ripe age of 101 in his studio in Gramercy Park last month. His work was recognized in February of this year, when he was awarded the Presidential Medal for the Arts.
A legend in the New York arts community, Will Barnet knew from the age of ten that he wanted to be an artist. He studied at the School of the Museum of Fine arts in Boston as well as at the Art Students League of New York, concentrating on printmaking and painting. In 1936, he became the official printer for the Art Students League.
While continuing to work on his art, he taught graphic arts at the Art Students League, spreading his influence not just among students but also among artists. His work is a very personal representation of Barnet’s own life; images of his wife and children, his pets, and his personal life made clear universal experiences we all share.
Will Barnet was also a leading artist in the Indian Space Painting movement of New York, blending his abstract/semi-abstract work with a Native American art base. In the 1970s, he again returned to the figurative painting for which he is most famous.
Displayed in a multitude of venues across the nation, Barnet had over eighty solo exhibitions in his lifetime. He also received numerous awards, sich as the Artist’s Lifetime Achievement Award Medal, the College Art Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Art’s Lippincott Prize, and more. In 2012, France conferred upon Barnet the insignia of Chevalier of the order of Arts.