Amon Carter print details


Will Barnet (1911-2012)

Object Details

  • Date


  • Object Type


  • Medium

    Oil on canvas

  • Dimensions

    45 x 38 in.

  • Inscriptions


    signed u.r. in oil: Will Barnet [Barnet is handwritten]


    dedicated, dated, and signed u.l. to u.r., handwritten on stretcher in ink: This Painting is a gift to my wife Elena Barnet 1953 Will Barnet

    c. typed on label: TIBOR DE NAGY / Exhibitied [sic] in the exhibition: / "Will Barnet: The Abstract Work" / October 15- November 14, 1998 / 724 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10019 212.262.5050 fax 212.262.1841 / Established 1950

    c.r. typed on label: TIBOR DE NAGY / Will Barnet / SELF-PORTRAIT, 1948-49 / oil on canvas / 45 x 38 inches / 724 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10019 212.262.5050 212.262.1841 / Established 1950

  • Credit Line

    Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas

  • Accession Number


  • Copyright

    © Will Barnet Trust / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY

Object Description

In the 1940s Barnet found creative inspiration in objects from Indigenous material cultures, which he studied during regular visits to museums, including the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, and while perusing the Smithsonian Institution’s Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology publication. Barnet valued Indigenous motifs as an essential resource for creating what he called “a real, a true American painting” distinct from European forms of abstraction.

Self-Portrait reworks motifs and patterns from Hopi pottery and Northwest Coast art, combining them into a flattened, semi-abstract rendition of Barnet’s head and upper body. In the center-left of the composition, a pipe extends from the artist’s mouth and nose, which are represented by an upside-down question mark. Paired with the red and tan square in the upper right—his hand scratching his forehead—the question mark suggests a process of creative inquiry and self-searching.

—Text taken from the Carter Handbook (2023)

Additional details

Location: On view
See more by Will Barnet


Educator Resources
  • How can symbols and shapes represent a figure?

    How can an artist use visual symbols to convey meaning?

    Why might an artist create a self-portrait?

    How and why might an artist’s style change over time?

  • All Levels

    Students will consider their future career. They will create an abstract self-portrait using lines, shapes, and colors that represent aspects of that career. For example, if the student wanted to become a librarian in the future, maybe their head will be drawn in the shape of a book and some rectangular shapes in the background will hint at bookshelves.

    Students will make a list of colors, shapes, and symbols that could represent them. Then they will explain why they chose those things. Students can complete their self-portrait incorporating these colors, shapes, and symbols. This self-portrait activity could be done as a drawing, painting, or collage.

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