Will Barnet: Relationships, Intimate and Abstract, 1935–1965

June 18, 2011December 31, 2011

To mark the 100th birthday of pioneering printmaker, painter, and educator Will Barnet (b. 1911), this exhibition of nearly fifty works explores the momentous evolution of Barnet’s art from realism to abstraction during the middle decades of the twentieth century.

Will Barnet’s career began in 1931, when he earned a scholarship to the prestigious Art Students League in New York. Here he excelled at various printmaking techniques including lithography, intaglio, and woodcut. In 1935 he was the youngest person to ever be appointed League Printer. A year later he began teaching graphic arts at the League, then composition and painting, initiating his nearly half-century career as one of America’s most important educators. He taught at Cooper Union, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Yale and Cornell universities, and many other schools, influencing multiple generations of American artists. His notable students include Robert Blackburn, Donald Judd, James Rosenquist, Mark Rothko, and Cy Twombly.

Through primarily prints and drawings, but also paintings, viewers can witness the sophisticated progression of Barnet’s art from the 1930s to the 1960s, the most pivotal period of his career. The artist’s stylistic evolution was marked by his search for the symbolic potential of forms, a search that culminated in one of the most important abstract paintings he ever created, the Amon Carter’s Self-Portrait (1952–53). Alongside this masterwork are related drawings from the 1950s that are being exhibited for the first time. This exhibition also includes important loans from the artist along side prints and drawings from the museum’s holdings.

Related Audio Tour

While at the museum, check out a free audio tour at the Information Desk to hear the artist describe his work. Click on the links below to hear the audio tour optimized for listening on a computer. This audio tour was made possible in part by the Marcus Institute for Digital Education in the Arts (MIDEA).