National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia
The Jewish Museum, New York
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco
The career of iconic American artist Will Barnet spanned almost nine decades, and was marked by many historical milestones including his early involvement with the Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration. A painter and master printmaker, Barnet is known for his strong compositions that feature children, women and animals in both domestic and dreamlike situations. His early work was strongly influenced by Social Realism, depicting the hardships of Depression-era life. After joining the Art student League as a printer, Barnet’s work moved into a Modernist period—his domestic interiors interspersed with geometric abstractions often associated with the Indian Space Painters. As he moved through various styles and movements, Barnet maintained a highly skilled, enigmatic technique that went on to influence an entire generation of artists including James Rosenquist and Cy Twombly.
Barnet’s work is held in over 200 museum collections around the world, and he has been the subject of many major solo exhibitions and retrospectives including the Museum of American Art of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the National Academy of Design Museum, the National Museum of American Art, and the Montclair Art Museum, among others. He taught at a number of institutions, including Cooper Union and Yale University. Barnet was a member of the National Academy of Design and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in London. In 2011 President Barack Obama awarded Barnet a National Medal of Arts and in 2012 he was given the insignia of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by France.