This acrylic painting on illustration board by Barrett was most likely created in the late 1920s or early 1930s during the time that Barrett spent living in New York City. Set in what appears to be an apartment, Barrett’s composition is similar to that of contemporary painters like Henri Matisse and Stuart Davis.
Stuart Davis, an established artist during the 1930s who, like Barrett, also applied and worked for the Federal Art Project. The use of monochromatic shapes and lines is common in Davis’s work, as seen in his sketch for a WNYC mural. Barrett uses similar tactics in his work here, shown in the shapes of the plant in the vase on the table, the fire in the fireplace, and the painting left askance on the table next to the vase.
In addition to influence of Davis, there is perhaps another allusion to a popular artist of the first half of the 1900s. The nude figure in the top left corner holding a fish, seems to be an allusion to Henri Matisse. Matisse included goldfish in several of his early paintings, such as Goldfish (1912) found at The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow, Russia. The nude figure also calls to Matisse and his representations of the female nude, often depicted with simplistic lines and shapes.
"From the Archives" is brought to you by Jean Hinkley. Ms. Hinkley is a graduate student of Museum Studies at Marist College. Growing up in Poughkeepsie influenced the way that Jean approaches thinking about cultural institutions, particularly in how to engage with local communities. Her research within the Barrett Art Center archives seeks to shed light on the unique character of Thomas Barrett and demonstrate that there is much to learn from our Hudson Valley history.