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Will Barnet Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: KM
Date: Jan 1993

Biographical History

Will Barnet (1911-2012) was an American painter and printmaker, best known for his figurative paintings enhanced by abstract arrangements and printmaking. He was also an important figure in Indian Space Painting, a New York art movement which encompassed abstract and semi-abstract work on Native American themes.

Born in 1911 in Beverly, MA, he studied at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts School from 1927 to 1933. In 1978 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, London and in 1982 he was made a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts. He received an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from the Massachusetts College of Art in 1989.

He has had exhibits at a number of museums including the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 1943; Galerie St. Etienne, New York, 1943; New York University Art Gallery, 1956; Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York, 1973; Wichita Art Museum, Wichita, KS, 1983; National Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C., 1995; Montclair Art Museum Montclair, NJ, 2000-2001; and in 2003 the Digital Sandbox Gallery in New York hosted "Will Barnet: A Poster Retrospective." His work is part of the permanent collection at nearly 200 museums around the world.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

Spanning 1937 through 1965, the Will Barnet Papers comprises correspondence, artwork, writings, and memorabilia of the American painter and printmaker.

Correspondence (1937-1960) is limited to a few announcements of awards and invitations to exhibits, and two outgoing letters to art critic James Thrall Soby. Artwork consists of a single drawing, a number of exhibit catalogs (1938-1965), a 1945 inventory, with prices, of prints and paintings at various galleries, and a few photographs and reproductions of Barnet's work. Writings includes a manuscript draft of an untitled autobiography and four published articles by barnet.

Memorabilia consists entirely of printed material about Barnet, and includes periodical articles (1937-1960), newspaper clippings (1930-1966), publicity, and teaching-related publications.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Barnet, Will, 1911-2012.


Art, American -- 20th century.
Art, American.
Painters -- United States.
Printmakers -- United States.
Wood-engravers -- United States.

Genres and Forms

Autobiographies (literary works)
Clippings (information artifacts)
Exhibition catalogs.



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Will Barnet Papers
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Will Barnet, 1963, 1966.

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