Beverly-born artist Will Barnet died in New York this week at the age of 101. Last year, Mr. Barnet was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Obama for his contributions as an American painter, printmaker, and teacher. The citation noted that “for over 80 years, Mr. Barnet has been a constant force in the visual arts world, marrying sophistication and emotion with beauty and form.” At the age of 100, he was reportedly still spending two or three hours a day painting.
Mr. Barnet had a deep appreciation for the role of the Beverly Public Library during his youth. In a 1942 letter of appreciation he sent to librarian Marjorie Stanton, he wrote that he had discovered the art books there as a grammar school student and that by the time he finished high school, he had devoured them all.
“All my dreams were awakened and nourished by the wealth of inspiration with which the wonderful Beverly Public Library was endowed…I have never underestimated the impetus that the Beverly Library art books gave to my growth as an artist.”
Mr. Barnet donated several prints to the library, which are now displayed in the library’s Barnet Gallery named in his honor.
- Will Barnet, Artist — Page about Will Barnet from the Beverly Public Library website, including the scanned image of Mr. Barnett’s 1942 letter to librarian Marjorie Stanton
- Will Barnet — Search the NOBLE catalog for books about Will Barnett and his work
- Meet Will Barnet — Video about Will Barnet’s life and work, contributed to the ArtBabble site by the Smithsonian American Art Museum
- Will Barnet: My Father’s House [PDF] — Catalogue accompanying the October 1, 2004 to November 23, 2004 exhibition at the Montserrat Gallery, Montserrat College of Art, with forward by John Updike and essay by Exhibition Curator Katherine French