Like Evelyn Statsinger, Robert Barnes was a liminal figure, not solidly in the Monster Roster, but possessed of an intensity that align his early canvases with those of his classmate Irving Petlin.
His figures are often specific, rather than generalized, drawn from art or literary history. Like Petlin, June Leaf, Seymour Rosofsky, and post-1950s George Cohen, his use of space can be rich, complex, and deep, rather than simple and flat, like that of Leon Golub and Nancy Spero.
Barnes’s love of the allusive power of theater is evident in the stage-set narrative scenarios he composes.
This text was adapted from John Corbett’s “Introducing: The Roster” in the Monster Roster exhibition catalogue.
“I’m not affected much by the outside world except for wonder, and that wonder is everywhere. You don’t have to go to New York to find life—I can go to a cattle auction, and there’s nothing that brings you down to earth faster than a cattle auction.”