Thursday, April 30, 2009

Will Barnet

John Dorfman's article, "Form and Feeling: Art & Antiques Visit Painter, Printmaker and Teacher Will Barnet, Now In His Eighth Decade as an Artist" is illustrated by the 1970 color lithograph Dialog in Green which demonstrates a lot about why I love Will Barnet: the architectural details, patterned carpets, and the sculptural figures of women and their cats.

Barnet was born in my home town of Beverly, Massachusetts. I lived with his work adorning the walls of the public library right down the street from my house. His art was the thing I enjoyed most when I visited, followed by the cool cabinet of elephant statues on the landing. My self-taught art education began with the volumes of art books there and it's nice to imagine that Will and I checked out the very same ones.

At the bottom of my stairway hangs a huge reproduction of his 1970 oil The Stairway. Its figure of a young girl with long dark hair reminds me of my daughter, Marianne. A related painting, The Bannister, is owned Amherst College's Mead Art Museum.

To see a satisfying number of paintings, I recommend Robert Doty's book Will Barnet (NY: Abrams, 1984). A black and white reproduction of The Stairway can be seen on page 93. And on page 39 is one of my favorites of Barnet's earlier works, the exuberantly colored and patterned oil Family and Pink Table (Mary and Sons) painted in 1948.

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