Will Barnet, a titan of the visual art world, died at his home in New York on Tuesday. He was 101.
His family said the cause of death was old age. “He died peacefully in his home,” said Phil Alexandre of New York’s Alexandre Gallery, which represented Barnet.
Barnet, an art educator and a lifelong champion of the arts, inspired generations of artists and lived long enough to enjoy many honors that most artists receive only posthumously. In 2011, President Obama awarded him the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor for an individual artist in the United States.
This year, France recognized him with the insignia of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters.
Barnet and his wife, Elena, lived in a duplex at the National Arts Club on Gramercy Park in Manhattan. They were without power for a few days because of Superstorm Sandy, and had to move to a warmer apartment.
Barnet got “a touch of pneumonia” during the power outage, Alexandre said, but had been feeling better in recent days.
His daughter, Ona, said her father visited many art galleries on Saturday, “doing what he loved the most.”
Hard of hearing and unable to walk, Barnet never allowed his physical ailments to limit his love of art, said a longtime friend, Ira Goldberg, executive director of the Arts Students League of New York, where Barnet studied and taught.
He was as committed to his work at 101 as he was when he was a young man making his way in New York, Goldberg said.
Barnett was probably best known for paintings and prints of women with their cats.
[thanks to the Portland (Maine) Press Herald]
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