Will Barnet Biography

Will Barnet




Will Barnet, painter, printmaker, and educator, was born on 25 May 1911 in Beverly, Massachusetts. He had a studio in his parents' basement at twelve and at sixteen Barnet began his formal studies at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, where he was a pupil of the painter Philip Hale between 1927 and 1930. He won a three-year scholarship to the Art Students League in New York where he learned the techniques of lithography from Charles Locke. In 1934, he was appointed the printer for the Art Students League.

Barnet taught briefly at Cornell, Yale, Cooper Union, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Museum School, Boston. He worked on the WPA Art Project during the 1930s and was hired in 1945 by the Art Students League where he was an instructor of painting until 1980.

In 1935, his first sold exhibition was at the Eighth Street Playhouse in Manhattan and, three years later, his first gallery show was at the Hudson Walker Gallery in Manhattan. He was included in the exhibition American Art Today at the 1939 World's Fair. His work has been included in numerous exhibitions over the decades including six appearances in the Whitney Museum of American Art's annual exhibitions. There were numerous museum retrospectives and the Will Barnet at 100 was presented at the National Academy in 2011.

Barnet was elected an Associate of the National Academy of Design in 1974 and was elevated to Academician in 1982. He was also a member of the Philadelphia Print Club, American Artists Congress, American Abstract Artists, Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors, Society of American Graphic Artists, the Century Association, and the Royal Society of Artists, England. President Obama presented him with a National Medal of Arts in 2011.

His work is represented in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Carnegie Institute; Cleveland Museum of Art; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Art, Philadelphia; Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.; Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

Will Barnet died at his home in Manhattan, New York on November 13, 2012.