Bo Bartlett

Nov 14

Will Barnet (1911- 2012) was a major influence on many students at the Pennsylvania Academy in the 1970’s. He took the train down from New York once a week to teach his advanced afternoon painting class. Vincent Desiderio and Brett Bigbee were two students who were closely aligned with Will at the time. Barnet gave his students permission. He showed us a way to explore figuration at a time when abstraction reigned. He also encouraged us to get our work to New York.  For those of our generation, in Philadelphia at that time, he was one of the earliest painters to have moved through abstraction and return back to figuration. Late in life he returned to abstraction. He was a great painter and printmaker. He continued to push himself and explore the limits of his art to the end. He passed yesterday. He was 101. 

The New York Times obituary aptly ends with…

Mr. Barnet’s first encounters with art were the carvings of skeletal heads and other images on colonial tombstones in a local cemetery in Beverly.

“These were mementos of what had taken place,” he recalled. “At the age of 10 or 12, I discovered that being an artist would give me an ability to create something which would live on after death.”

The Will Barnet website asks that in lieu of flowers, a donation can be made to The Art Students League of New York

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