Artwork Information

  • Title:

    High Chair, The

  • Artist:

    Barnet, Will

  • Artist Bio:

    American, 1911–2012

  • Date:


  • Medium:

    Oil and carbon pencil

  • Dimensions:

    27 1/2 x 30 1/2 inches

  • Credit Line:

    Wichita Art Museum, Gift of the artist in honor of Howard E. Wooden

  • Object Number:


  • Display:

    Not Currently on Display

About the Artwork

Barnet returned to the subject of mothers and children repeatedly throughout his long career and spent much of the 1980s and 1990s depicting his daughter, Ona, with her children. In The High Chair, Barnet uses a spare, geometric composition—a reminder of his mid-career commitment to pure abstraction—to explore the relationship between mother and child. Ona and her son Will mirror each other visually. They are both painted as strong verticals, and each takes up half of the composition. At the same time, however, Barnet’s grandson is separate and visually distinct from his mother. Unlike traditional images of mothers and children—including religious icons of the biblical Virgin Mary and Infant Jesus—the young boy is not held or cuddled. Instead, he exists in his own space and looks defiantly out at the viewer. Ona looks toward her son, both connected to him and yet separate from him, a visualization of the complexity of the parent-child relationship.