Daily Art Moment: Will Barnet

Waiting, from the Kent Bicentennial Portfolio: Spirit of Independence, Will Barnet, color lithograph and screenprint on paper, 33 x 33 7/8 inches, lithograph and screenprint on paper. A square print depicting six women grouped in twos sitting and standing on a set of exterior staircases. The women sit or stand on the upper, middle and lower portions of a switch back staircase attached on the upper level to a building. At upper right are two women positioned just inside and just outside a doorway to a gray clapboard building. One woman stands at a railing and faces the viewer while the other has her back turned and stands inside the doorway in shadow. A staircase leads down to the left. At middle left is a woman standing with her back turned to the viewer next to a woman sitting on the staircase landing and looking left. At bottom left, a woman sits on the second staircase that leads down. She rests her head on her hand while another woman stands below her leaning against a building post, both looking out to the pale blue sea in the background. The women all wear long black or gray dresses and most wear shawls. The structure and the women are rendered in flat gray tones with skin color being white with minimal line drawing facial features.

“On Monday, curator Grace Kook-Anderson shared Jacob Lawrence’s inspiring image of voters, a screenprint he prepared for the Kent Bicentennial portfolio. As she notes, the commissioned artists were asked to respond to the question, ‘What does independence mean to you?’. Reviewing the portfolio in ‘The New York Times’ in 1976, one critic cited Barnet’s image of New England women anxiously awaiting the return of their seafaring kin as ‘The least pertinent in subject matter’ to the portfolio. Today, Barnet’s view of patience as a vital tool of independence and democracy seems eerily prescient.”

Mary Weaver Chapin, Curator of Prints and Drawings

Will Barnet, Waiting, from the Kent Bicentennial Portfolio: Spirit of Independence, 1974/1975, color lithograph and screenprint on paper, Gift of Lorillard, © unknown, research required, 76.4.1

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