Sunday, August 22, 2010

Will Barnet at Colby College and CMCA

Colby College has an exhibit on Will Barnet's New York Drawings and Prints and a current exhibit at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art (CMCA) includes prints by Will Barnet. Absolutely worth a visit.

The exhibit at CMCA, Will Barnet--Master Printmaker: Selected Prints from Five Decades, combines 14 widely known representational prints of family and personal memories with a series of very rare, less well-known abstract prints from the 1950s and '60s that appeared at the Lieber Museum on Long Island, New York, in 2009.

Together the exhibition offers a strong cross-section of Barnet’s interest in printmaking, which reaches back to his early days as a student at the Boston Museum School and continues when he was a student specifically chosen by his mentor, Reginald Marsh at the Art Students League, beginning in 1931. Five years later, Barnet became the official printer for the Art Students League in New York, where he taught printmaking and painting for four decades. His own teaching -- there as well as at Cornell University, Cooper Union in New York City, Yale University, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art -- influenced many famous American artists, including the late Bob Blackburn, an African American artist whose legendary fine art print shop got underway thanks to his mentor, Will Barnet.
In a new documentary by Dale Schierholt on Will Barnet, the artist explains that this image -- showing his wife and their child--separates the child from her mother, unlike traditional Madonna images. The strong lines, he says, are impressionistic. The documentary is very engaging and informative.

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