Will Barnet • American: 1911 - 2012
Soliloquy • Silkscreen on Paper 13-3/4” x 26-1/2”
At the age of 41 Will Barnet’s wife told him his daughters weren’t his. It happened during a bitter divorce and just a few years after Barnet reinvented his art by focusing more on his family life. “My family gave me the freedom to be an artist.” Some of his greatest works, including Summer Family featured his three sons, two daughters and first wife, noted painter Mary Sinclair. To him, reality was what he knew and he knew his family, or so he thought. “They’re so much a part of me. I could take liberties with them that I couldn’t take with those I’m not familiar with.”
Then his reality went poof. In 1952 Sinclair left him for a doctor (who painted). Late in life she confided to a friend that she had lied about her daughter’s parentage to stop Will from following her around like a love-sick puppy. But the damage was done and would not be corrected for almost a half century, if ever.
Fortunately, Barnet had a remarkable ability to reinvent himself and his art. In 1953 Barnet married another woman, Elena Ciurlys, a modern dancer from Lithuania. Their daughter, Ona, appeared in many of his paintings, including Soliloquy at the Canton Museum of Art.
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