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Artist Spotlight: Will Barnet

50×50: The Herbert and Dorothy Vogel Collection, an exhibition of 50 contemporary works of art that the FAC received as a gift from New York collectors Dorothy and Herbert Vogel. As part of this extraordinary gift, one institution in each of the 50 states received 50 works of art. With the help of the National Gallery of Art, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the Vogels gifted 2,500 works nationwide that include paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, and prints by more than 170 contemporary artists, mainly working in the United States.

Will Barnet, Willie, Age 2 1/2, 1984. Charcoal on vegetable parchment paper. FA 2009.12.2

One of the featured artists in the exhibition is Will Barnet, an artist and educator who explored drawing, painting, watercolor, and printmaking throughout his 101 years of life. He is known for his gracefully stylized portraits depicting figures and animals, mostly based on his wife and children in scenes of both everyday life and also in colorfully imagined dreamlike atmospheres. Barnet was an influential figure in the New York-based movement of “Indian Space Painting,” in which artists based their semi-abstract work on traditional Native American art.

The gestural charcoal portraits in the Vogel Collection are more naturalistic and detailed than the artist’s better-known work, yet they reflect the simplified economy of line typical of his paintings.

In 2011, Barnet was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama.

Will Barnet, Self-Portrait, 1981. image source

50 x 50: The Herbert and Dorothy Vogel Collection
On view May 11–Aug. 11, 2013