Will Barnet (1911-2012) was an American original. While he may not be a household name today, his nine-decade influence as an artist, teacher, and exemplar of inimitable American modernism was profound. With more than 80 one-man exhibitions at major institutions like the Metropolitan Museum, the Whitney, and the Guggenheim and a body of work that, despite its stylistic variety, is always recognizably his own, Barnet achieved wide acclaim during his lifetime. In this installation of 22 recently gifted and loaned works by Barnet from the permanent collection, we can begin to see why.
Indeed, Barnet forged a unique path through 20th century art history. At once a dedicated realist and figurative artist when pure abstraction was the norm and an experimenter in abstraction when other artists renewed their interest in representation, Barnet defied expectations about how modern artists should produce art, refusing to bend to the whims of any contemporary trends.