"At first glance, the work on view at Alexandre seems a straightforward reiteration of Barnet’s lingering in the same ideographic territory that Motherwell, Gottlieb and others had moved on from by 1950. That he stayed with this kind of vision for another decade is a mystery in itself, made all the more intriguing by the fact that he came out of it a figurative painter."
Painter Will Barnet died Tuesday at the age of 101. In the New York Times obituary, Ken Johnson writes "In the prints and paintings that he produced from the mid-1960s on, Mr. Barnet ranged between a simplified form of realism and a poetic, visionary symbolism."
In 2011, the Times' Hilarie M. Sheets noted that Barnet who "taught artists including Cy Twombly, Tom Wesselmann, Eva Hesse, James Rosenquist, Mark Rothko and Donald Judd... always felt his figurative and abstract painting shared a unity in terms of structure and taking liberties with form." In a 2009 interview he told Pamela Koob: "My relationship with the art world was always tied up with history. What I was doing related to the past, but it was fresh in the sense that I had reinterpreted ideas in a more contemporary sense…. I wasn’t worried about what was going on in the art world; I was worried about getting a good painting. in many ways I was against the grain. I’m sorry to say it, I hate to do it — I would love to be part of everything, but that is what happens."
Franklin Einspruch reviews the exhibition Will Barnet at 100 at the National Academy Museum, New York, on view through December 31, 2011.
Though well known for figurative work, Einspruch writes that "Barnet has returned to abstraction in recent years, working in much the same mode as his work in the '50s. If they still feel like they’re searching, they're searching with a vitality that one would not associate with a man of his years."
Hrag Vartanian posts a great video find: Alcopley, Conrad Marca-Relli, Joe Stefanelli, John Stephan, Robert Richenburg, and Will Barnet "discuss the creation of the first Artist's Annual, the 9th St. Show and the continuation of the Annuals at the Stable Gallery."
Roslyn Bernstein talks with Todd and Peter Barnet about their father, painter Will Barnet, in anticipation of his upcoming retrospective at the National Academy Museum.
The sons vividly recount their childhood and note that their father, now 100, still paints daily. "Peter, the oldest at 72, Richard... who is 70, and Todd, now 68, would watch Will create his art. 'Will painted in front of us, Peter explains. “He got right down on the floor."
Steven Alexander blogs about Will Barnet's consistently inspiring abstract paintings. Alexander notes that "there is no doubt still plenty of fertile ground to be cultivated creating dynamic arrangements of organic shapes with paint on canvas. The most inspiring example I know is Will Barnet, who turned 100 this year. Probably best known for his elegantly reductive and etherial figure compositions, he studied with Stuart Davis, and has devoted extended periods of his career to making abstract paintings that I think are his greatest contribution."
Edited by artist Brett Baker, Painters' Table highlights writing from the painting blogosphere as it is published and serves as a platform for exploring blogs that focus primarily on the subject of painting.