Will Barnet once said:
I like freshness, I don’t want to repeat myself, that is the one thing I avoid…I develop an idea and then I move on.
What is impressive about Will Barnet as an artist was his refusal to compromise and to go with the flow. He steadfastly has refused to imitate the trendsetting movements of the moment and instead has chosen to chart his own course. What is most impressive, however, is that Barnet has survived and perhaps flourished in spite of and most likely because of his resoluteness. He has had over 80 solo exhibitions. His works are represented in such notable museums as the Guggenheim, Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the National Gallery in Washington, D.C.
He has been quoted as saying:
I didn’t compromise, ever…The old masters are still alive after 400 years, and that’s what I want to be”
Will Barnet began his career painting self portraits much like Rembrandt in his parents’ basement in Beverly, Massachusetts, a bedroom community north of Boston. During the 1930’s and throughout the depths of the Great Depression his works took on a tone of social realism. During the 1950’s and 1960’s when Abstract Expressionism was all the rage, and the 1970’s when Pop Art was fashionable, Barnet’s works remained stubbornly figurative in their representation and portrayal in both casual daily settings as well as in dreamlike ones. Barnet clearly saw what no one else did. Will Barnet has succeeded in charting a very independent route.
Barnet’s works were personal, filled with images of his wife and his daughter Ona, as in Study for Midnight. While these figures remain representational and elegant in their simplicity, their flat surfaces belie an interest in abstraction. This work is contemplative, almost placid, although somewhat enigmatic in its portrait of a woman her baby, robed and standing in a tender embrace in front of a window alongside the family dog.
Doyle, New York, November 28, 2007
Jason McCoy Gallery, New York