A Finding Aid to the Will Barnet Papers, 1897, 1929-2016, in the Archives of American Art

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.barnwill
Creators:
Barnet, Will, 1911-2012
Dates:
1897
1929-2016
Languages:
English
The collection is in English.
Physical Description:
30.7 Linear feet
7.24 Gigabytes
Repository:
The papers of painter, printmaker, and educator Will Barnet date from 1897 and 1929-2016. The collection measures 30.7 linear feet and 7.24 gigabytes. Found within the papers are biographical material, including numerous recorded interviews of Barnet; personal and professional correspondence; writings and lectures; financial records; printed material; artwork; and photographs of Barnet, his family and friends, and his work. An addition received in 2016 includes biographical material, correspondence, writings, diaries and daybooks, gallery and exhibition files, project and professional files, printed material, and photographic material.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The papers of painter, printmaker, and educator Will Barnet date from 1897 and 1929-2016. The collection measures 30.7 linear feet and 7.24 gigabytes. Found within the papers are biographical material, including numerous recorded interviews of Barnet; personal and professional correspondence; writings and lectures; financial records; printed material; artwork; and photographs of Barnet, his family and friends, and his work. An addition received in 2016 includes biographical material, correspondence, writings, diaries and daybooks, gallery and exhibition files, project and professional files, printed material, and photographic material.
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.
The addition to the Will Barnet papers received in 2016 includes biographical material, correspondence, writings, diaries and daybooks, gallery and exhibition files, project and professional files, printed material, and photographic material. Measuring 19.7 linear feet and 7.24 gigabytes, the addition greatly expands on the original donation, particularly in the diaries and daybooks, which include entries from over five decades. Barnet's long career and professional activities are also well documented in the gallery, exhibition, project, and professional files.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as 8 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)
  • Series 8: Addition to the Will Barnet Papers, 1897, 1929-2016 (19.7 linear feet; Box 13-33, OV 34; 7.24 Gigabytes; ER01-ER06)

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
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.

Administration
Separated Materials
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 news clippings and exhibition catalogs. The microfilm is not described in the container listing of this finding aid.
Existence and Location of Copies
Portions of the collection and material lent for microfilming is available on 35mm microfilm reels N68-22, N68-35, N69-46, N69-126, N70-48, and 98 at the Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan. Researchers should note that the arrangement of the collection as described in this finding aid does not reflect the order of the collection on microfilm.
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.
Processing Information
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.
The 2016 addition was processed to a minimal level and the finding aid was updated by Hilary Price in 2017.
Author
Judy Ng and Hilary Price
Sponsor
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art. Funding for the preservation and transfer of motion picture film was provided by the Smithsonian Women's Committee.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Will Barnet loaned his papers to the Archives of American Art for microfilming in 1968. He donated most of this material along with additional papers in several increments between 1968-2001. More papers were donated 2016 by Elena Barnet, Will Barnet's widow.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Will Barnet papers, 1897, 1929-2016. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Conditions Governing Access
Use of original papers requires an appointment. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
Conditions Governing Use
The Will Barnet papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.

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.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Video recordings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Transcripts Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Interviews Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painters -- New York (State) -- New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Visitors' books Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Artists' studios -- New York (State) -- New York -- Photographs Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Printmakers -- New York (State) -- New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sketches Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art teachers Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Booth, Cameron, 1892-1980 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Pearson, Henry, 1914-2006 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Savelli, Angelo, 1911- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art Students League (New York, N.Y.) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sternberg, Harry, 1904-2001 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Barnet, Peter. Will Barnet: artist and teacher Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Von Wicht, John, 1888-1970 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Waddell Gallery Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Esther-Robles Gallery Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001
https://www.aaa.si.edu/services/questions
https://www.aaa.si.edu/