Will Barnet grew up in Beverly, Massachusetts and studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. He moved to New York in 1930 and entered the Art Students League, where he began to seriously study printmaking. By 1936 Barnet had established himself as a professional printer and the youngest instructor of graphic arts ever to hold a faculty position at the League.
By the 1940s, Barnet was well known as a painter and printmaker and he had begun to explore Abstraction. The compositions of his work produced during his “Indian Space Period” focus primarily on form and color, then during the late 1960s, he returned to overt figuration while still retaining the elegant line, color and spatial relationships of his earlier abstract work. The content and style of Barnet’s early prints show his interest in the lithographs of Daumier, the French printmaker who used scenes of common life as his subjects.
Barnet was chosen as one of the jurors for the Portland Museum of Art Biennial Exhibition that was on view in 1998 and 1999.