Will Barnet

Hailing from Beverly, Massachusetts, Will Barnet first studied art at he School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. In 1930, he moved to New York, where he enrolled in the Art Students League, studying with Stuart Davis and becoming an instructor in printmaking in 1936. He quickly established his reputation through prints and paintings executed in a social realist style bearing influences from Jan Vermeer, Honore Daumier, and Jose Clemente Oroszco. During the 1940s, Barnet developed an abstract pictorial language based on hard-edged geometric forms; this language dominated his work from the 1960s, before he returned to a figurative style. Noted for his etchings, woodcuts, and lithographs, Barnet has taught at Cooper Union, Cornell University, Yale University, and the Pennsylvania Academy. Barnet's fascination with Native American art is evident in "Whiplash's" forms and color scheme, an inspiration he shared with his New York colleagues Peter Busa and Steve Wheeler. The artists formed a movement known as Indian Space, named for their interest in the flattened space of Native American art, a visual paradigm shared by the contemporaneous Abstract Expressionist movement. Between 1959 and 1962, Barnet traveled to the Pacific Northwest to study Native American art, drawn to its totemic power and affected by the region's landscape.
Date of Birth
Oil on canvas
62 1/4 x 41 1/8 in. (158.115 x 104.4575 cm.)
Accession #
Credit Line
John Lambert Fund