Wednesday, March 30, 2011

U.S.A. artists Will Barnet and Erma Winfield give "90´s art" new context

"Meditation" by Will Barnet

"The Young Couple," Will Barnet

"Mujer ALAeyendo," Will Barnet (1970)

These two never met a blank canvas or fiberglass corrugated fence they could not conquer and paint.

It takes longer now, though.

Will Barnet, who turns 100 in May, paints every day at the National Arts Club in Manhattan where he has lived 35 years and has his studio.

New York arts professionals consider Barnet a vibrant icon among New York´s artists, dead and alive, an accomplished painter who taught printmaking to Mark Rothko, Eva Hesse and Cy Twombly.

He taught printmaking for 45 years at the Art Students League

Barnet remains mentally acute when it comes to recalling with vivid precision 70 years of the state´s art history.

“We never expected to sell, much less get rich.”

“When I started, we did not expect to sell, much less get rich,” he told Dan Bischoff, for The Star Ledger newspaper.

“Nobody bought any paintings for 10, 20 years during the Depression. It’s was a commitment and a passion.

“Artists wanted nothing more than to get together and talk about art, to have philosophical discussions.

"Blue Robe," print, Will Barnet (1971)
“There was an intimacy among artists that today´s artist have lost,” he told Bischoff.

Barnet never lost the passion, but he´s lost some of his past pace.

Barnet can knock out only about 10 paintings a year as he negotiates life with relative ease in his wheelchair.

Erma Winfield and her fence

Look out, Will, you´re an art historian with a computer-like recall, but you may not know that in MidCity, Los Angeles, Erma Winfield, age 94, must have caught wind of your artforce.
Erma Winfield stands before mural in progress.
Erma this month wrapped up a nearly nine-month project (working half an hour daily) painting a 40-foot, fiberglass, corrugated fence, a series of panels, into her naïve-style portrayal of the four seasons, while consuming $150 of exterior acrylic house paint.

All this on a vague challenge issued by a neighbor.

Winfield is self-taught, a regular Grandma Moses, who hails as a great-great granddaughter of an African slave, from Natchez, Mississippi, the Deep South.

Will, on the other hand, is a highly educated painter and printmaker and retired art professor.
"Mothers,"Will Barnet (1930)

Both reject age as a barrier to creativity.

Like father, like son

The New Jersey artist, who paints daily like Erma Winfield, recently opened a show of 10 of his works from last year at the Montclair Art Museum, calling it, “Centennial Celebration.”

His son, Peter, age 72, heads the painting department at Montclair and often takes Dad to the MOMA, where both continue to be thoroughly enriched.

Paraphrasing Pablo Picasso, inspiration is a cool thing when it finds us working.

Rock on and practice peace and love.
Stefan, the ArtTraveler ™

"Blurred Vision I," photograph by Stefan van Drake
Art travel to Andalusia and experience a week-long sculpture or mosaics workshop given by a maestro, Moira Schepel, or take a walking holiday in our majestic mountains protected by a national park with trailblazer Joost Schepel. See: and

"Palma Lights" by Stefan van Drake
Reach me by e-mailing or calling (34) 951 067 703 or if from the UK, at BT landline rates, 0844 774 8349. Please alert me to art news tips, happenings or background information for stories of mutual interest.

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