Will Barnet: New York Drawings & Prints, the 1930s
July 10, 2010 - October 31, 2010
In 1930, at the age of nineteen, Will Barnet moved to New York City from his native Massachusetts to study at the Art Students League. The young artist responded to the city by exploring it on foot, preferring long walks to the stuffiness and darkness of his rented rooms. New York’s Central Park became Barnet’s refuge, a place where he slept on hot summer nights and where he quickly and discreetly drew the people he encountered. This exhibition presents a group of Barnet’s Central Park drawings from the 1930s as well as a selection of related prints made from the copper plates that he carried in his pockets and etched on site. Many of these works have remained in the artist’s possession and have never been exhibited. Created during the Depression, the drawings and prints describe a world of human intimacy and affection thoroughly removed from the époque’s harsh realities. In the verdant oasis of Central Park, which Barnet remembers as the people’s “front yard,” he captured figures in repose, embracing couples, mothers and children, and everyday people so deeply absorbed in conversation that they rarely noticed the artist in their midst.