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Will Barnet papers, circa 1897, 1929-2016

Will Barnet papers, circa 1897, 1929-2016

Barnet, Will, 1911-2012

Painter, Printmaker

Collection Information

Size: 30.8 linear feet

Summary: The papers of painter, printmaker, and educator Will Barnet measure 11.1 linear feet and date from 1938 to 2001. Found within the papers are biographical material, including numerous recorded interviews of Barnet; personal and professional correspondence; writings and lectures, many of which exist only as audio and video recordings; financial records; printed material, including audio and video documentaries; artwork; and photographs of Barnet, his family and friends, and his work.

Biographical/Historical Note

Will Barnet (1911-2012) was a painter, printmaker, and educator who lived and worked in New York City.

Provenance

Will Barnet donated his papers in several increments between 1968-2001. Additional material donated 2016 by Elena Barnet, Will Barnet's widow.

Related Materials

The Archives of American Art holds three oral history interviews with Will Barnet, one conducted by Richard Baker, January 20, 1964, one by Paul Cummings, January 15, 1968, and another by Stephen Polcari on April 9, 1993. Also found are two additional related collections, a transcript of an interview by Louis Newman with Molly Barnes and Will Barnet, and Peter Barnet's research material on Will Barnet. Syracuse University holds additional papers of Will Barnet.

Funding

Funding for the preservation and transfer of motion picture film provided by the Smithsonian Women's Committee. Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Location of Originals

  • Material on reels N68-22, N69-126, and N70-48 was lent for microfilming. Originals returned to Barnet after microfilming.

A Finding Aid to the Will Barnet Papers, 1938-2001, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.barnwill
Author
Finding aid prepared by Judy Ng
Biographical/Historical note
Will Barnet (1911-2012) was a painter, printmaker, and educator who lived and worked in New York City.
Barnet was born in Beverly, Massachusetts to Noah and Sarahdina Barnet. After showing an early interest and affinity for art, he attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. In 1931, he received a scholarship to attend the Art Students League where he studied with Stuart Davis and began building his printmaking techniques. In 1935, he was appointed the League's official printer, and was given his first teaching position there the following year. In 1938, working in the style of social realism, he held his first gallery show at the Hudson Walker Gallery in Manhattan. That same year, Barnet married Mary Sinclair, with whom he had three sons.
In the 1940s and 50s, Barnet began to move away from realism and started painting domestic familial subjects in geometric abstract styles, a move influenced by Native American and modern European art. By 1953, he had divorced and was remarried to Elena Ciurlys, with whom he had a daughter. Elena and his daughter were the subject of many of his representational, dimensionally flat paintings in the 1960s and 70s. During the 60s, Barnet also returned to large scale abstract art, and moved back and forth between styles throughout the rest of his career into the 2000s.
As an educator, Barnet taught graphic arts, printmaking, composition, and painting courses at the League from 1936 to 1980, and also taught courses Cooper Union, Yale, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He received numerous awards, including the first Artist's Lifetime Achievement Award given on the National Academy of Design's 175th anniversary, the College Art Association's Lifetime Achievement Award, and the 2011 National Medal of Arts.
Will Barnet died in his home in Manhattan, New York on November 13, 2012.
Arrangement note
The collection is arranged as 7 series.
Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1945-1995 (2 linear feet; Boxes 1-2)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1940-2001 (3 linear feet; Boxes 3-5, OV 12)
Series 3: Writings, 1940-2000 (3.1 linear feet; Boxes 5-9)
Series 4: Personal Business Records, 1950-1981 (5 folders; Box 9)
Series 5: Printed Material and Publications, 1938-2001 (2.3 linear feet; Boxes 9-11)
Series 6: Photographic Materials, 1939-2001 (0.5 linear feet; Box 11, OV 12)
Series 7: Artwork, 1938-1983 (3 folders; Box 11)
Scope and Contents note
The papers of painter, printmaker, and educator Will Barnet measure 11.1 linear feet and date from 1938 to 2001. Found within the papers are biographical material, including numerous recorded interviews of Barnet; personal and professional correspondence; writings and lectures, many of which exist only as audio and video recordings; financial records; printed material, including audio and video documentaries; artwork; and photographs of Barnet, his family and friends, and his work.
Biographical materials consist of appointment and address books, curriculum vitae, a fellowship application, awards ceremony documentation, and numerous recorded interviews, including a 9 part interview with Kitty Gellhorn conducted over the course of two years. Only 6 of the 24 interviews have transcripts and most are found only on original audio and video recordings with no duplicate access copies.
Correspondence is primarily with Barnet's family, friends, fellow artists, and business associates discussing personal relationships, teaching and lecturing appointments, gallery sales, and exhibitions. Correspondents of note include Cameron Booth, Henry Pearson, Angelo Savelli, Harry Sternberg, Jon Von Wicht, Esther Robles Gallery, and the Waddell Gallery (formerly Grippi and Waddell).
Writings by Barnet consist of 7 essays, 45 teaching lectures, 3 notebooks, and 4 speeches. Many of the lectures and 3 of the 4 speeches exist only as audio and video recordings for which there are no transcripts or duplicate access copies. The bulk of writings by others are biographical essays and memoirs of Barnet, including a copy of Peter Barnet's dissertation,
Will Barnet: Artist and Teacher
. The series also includes 4 exhibition guest registers.
Personal business records include sales and teaching contracts, gift acknowledgements, and price lists.
Printed material includes auction catalogs, clippings, audio recordings, video documentaries, exhibition announcements and catalogs, newsletters, press releases, programs, and reproductions of artwork. Video documentaries of note include
Artist's Eye
and
Lasting Impressions
, both of which Barnet contributed interviews to.
Photographic materials document people, artwork, exhibition installations, and works of art. There are early photos of Barnet teaching at the Art League, as well as photos of Barnet in his studio and with friends and family. Views of exhibition installations, award ceremonies, and events mainly document solo shows and Barnet's reception after receiving the National Arts Club's Gold Medal Award.
Artwork consists of ink, pencil, and pen sketches by Will Barnet, and a drawing by Bill Smith.
Provenance
Will Barnet donated his papers in several increments between 1968-2001. Additional material donated 2016 by Elena Barnet, Will Barnet's widow.
Separated Materials note
Also found in the Archives are papers that were lent for microfilming (reels N68-22, N69-126, and N70-48.) Most but not all of this material was included in subsequent donations, except for scattered newsclippings and exhibition catalogs. The microfilm is not described in the container listing of this finding aid.
Related Archival Materials note
The Archives of American Art holds three oral history interviews with Will Barnet, one conducted by Richard Baker, January 20, 1964, one by Paul Cummings, January 15, 1968, and another by Stephen Polcari on April 9, 1993. Also found are two additional related collections, a transcript of an interview by Louis Newman with Molly Barnes and Will Barnet, and Peter Barnet's research material on Will Barnet. Syracuse University holds additional papers of Will Barnet.
Location of Originals
  • Material on reels N68-22, N69-126, and N70-48 was lent for microfilming. Originals returned to Barnet after microfilming.
Processing Information note
Gift portions of the papers were microfilmed on reels N68-35, N69-46, and 98. All previously microfilmed and unfilmed accessions were merged, fully processed, and described by Judy Ng in 2013 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art. The Smithsonian Womens Committee provided funding for the transfer of one 8mm motion picture film of the 1966 Hirschl and Adler exhibition.

Additional Forms Available

Portions of the papers were microfilmed on reels N68-35, N69-46, and 98. The microfilm is available for interlibrary loan but researchers are advised that the microfilm does not reflect the current order of the papers and is incomplete. One 8mm motion picture film of a 1966 exhibition at Hirschl and Adler (Series 1) was transferred onto video recordings (VHS and digital Betacam), which are available for research access at the Archives of American Art's Washington D.C. office. The original reel is not available for playback due to fragility.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.

How to Cite This Collection

Will Barnet papers, circa 1897, 1929-2016. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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