Will Barnet (Will Barnet)

Will Barnet

Painter. A somewhat difficult artist to classify, he used oil, watercolors, and drawing to create images of attractive ladies and the Maine coast. Raised in the Boston suburbs, he began his art career by sketching Colonial era grave stones in the local cemetery and as a child was able to observe the great portraitist John Singer Sargent at work on Boston murals. Following study at Boston’s School of the Museum of Fine Arts he moved to New York City in 1931 for further training with the Art Students League. Working as a draftsman and printmaker during the Depression, he gradually built his reputation, had his first solo exhibit at the Eighth Street Playhouse in 1935, and in 1939 saw his work shown at the New York World’s Fair. In the 1940s Barnet’s pictures were to assume a Picasso-like Abstract style that was typified by a number of American Indian-themed pieces then in the 1960s he adopted a more Realist approach and created his best known body of work, some of it having almost a pre-Raphaelite character. A gifted instructor, he taught at the Art Students League for more than 40 years and was also at times on the faculties of Cooper Union, Yale, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. The subject of numerous solo exhibits, he received the National Medal of Arts in 2011, was named Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor in 2012, and remained alert and active until his demise. Speaking of his artistic focus he said: “I never compromised. Ever”. (bio by: Bob Hufford)


  • May, 25, 1911
  • USA


  • November, 11, 2012
  • USA


  • Cremated

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