Will Barnet “Male and Female”, 1954. Oil on canvas, 40 × 32in. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of an anonymous donor through the Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors 55.17. *
Will Barnet (1911- 2012) is known for his lyrical, dreamlike, unusually colored images of domestic life, often complete with pets. The simplicity of his narrative conceit, however, belies the painterly structural complexity which enlivens these scenes which are both abstract and offer a nod to the “Old Masters.”
An artist for 9 of the 10 decades of his life, a recipient of the National Medal of Arts in 2011, Barnet was born in Massachusetts, moving to New York to study at The Art Students League. A printmaker as well as a painter, he worked for the WPA’s Graphic Arts division. With study at The Art Students League, his work has shown extensively world-wide including Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, MoMA, the Guggenheim, the Vatican Museum and the British Museum . Barnet taught at both Cooper Union and Yale University. He was a member of the National Academy of Design and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in London. He drew and watercolored, as well.