France Honors Will Barnet with the Chevalier of Order of Arts & Letters

January 21, 2012 | By French Culture
Will Barnet at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy

On January 19th, 2012, Antonin Baudry, Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy, conferred the insignia of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters on Will Barnet, artist, painter, printmaker, and professor.

A devoted printmaker with a technical expertise encompassing lithograph, woodcut, serigraph, and intaglio, Barnet has treated printmaking as a serious undertaking in its own right. As early as 1934 he became the official printer for the Arts Students League, New York, and taught there for 40 years, influencing a generation of artists including James Rosenquist, Knox Martin, Paul Jenkins and Cy Twombly. Barnet has also taught at the New School for Social Research, Yale, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, and Cooper Union.
 
Strongly influenced by French painters, notably Honoré Daumier, Picasso, Ingres and Cézanne, Will Barnet has made an indelible contribution to 20th century art. His exceptional body of work, and his original style, are recognized around the world. His work has entered virtually every major museum in the United States including: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The National Gallery of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Whitney Museum of American Art, and The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Abroad he is represented in the collections of The British Museum, The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, and The Vatican Museum, and in private collections around the world. There have been innumerable critical studies of his works in books, catalogues, and magazine articles.
 
“I remember at the age of 12 sitting on a big rock in front of the Beverly Massachusetts lighthouse that faced the Atlantic Ocean directly across from Paris and dreaming of going to Paris. At time I was reading French novels and learning about French art. By the time I was 14, I had read all five volumes of the French art historian Elie Faure’s “History of Art.’ What kept me alive was that I identified with the masters-they were my guiding light.”
–Will Barnet
 
In his centennial year, Mr. Barnet continues to work on his art every day, continually pushing himself as an artist and perennially looking forward.
 
The Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters) was created in 1957 to recognize eminent artists and writers, as well as individuals who have contributed to furthering the arts in France and throughout the world. The Order is given out twice annually to only a few hundred people worldwide. Americans who have received the award include Paul Auster, Ornette Coleman, Agnes Gund, Marilyn Horne, Jim Jarmusch, Richard Meier, Robert Paxton, Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, and Uma Thurman.
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