Charles E. Barnes (1915-2005) was born in Chicago on November 10, 1915. In the 1930’s his family moved to Richmond, Indiana, and then Barnes relocated to Indianapolis in the early 1940s. He taught at Park School (now Park Tudor) in Indianapolis and kept a studio on McLean Place in the city.
Barnes spent four years in the service during World War ll where he served with the 704th Engineers as chief camouflage technician. He traveled with the American Army from Africa, to Sicily, Italy, and France. During this time, he made many drawings of the destruction he found in the wake of war. In 1945, the Indianapolis Star published several of his drawings that were created while serving in Italy. These works of art are affecting, powerful, and exquisitely drawn. Ruins, barbed wire, and blackened earth are depicted with the same sense of balance and control as his watercolor landscapes.
Barnes studied at the John Herron School of Art (Indianapolis), the Santa Monica School of Design, and the School of Modern Photography. In his fine art, executed before and after the war, Barnes was best known as an abstract painter.
His impressive list of accomplishments ranges from art instructor to art director for Argo Films (New York City), charter member of the Creative Film Society (Hollywood), to director of the Modern Art Center (later, the Charles E. Barnes Art Center) located near Brown County State Park in Nashville, Indiana.
Charles Barnes was a recognized and celebrated artist from his very earliest days at the John Herron School of Art, and his work has been exhibited coast-to-coast, from the National Art Gallery in Washington to the Los Angeles County Museum. More than fifty universities and museums, including the Indianapolis Museum of Art, held or hold his works. Barnes was also friends with some of America’s great painters, including Georgia O’Keefe, Andrew Wyeth and abstract artist, Jackson Pollack.
Charles Barnes died on March 31, 2005 in Nashville, Indiana. He was eighty-nine years old.
(Sourced from Brown County Democrat, 2003; and Indiana Illustrators and Hoosier Cartoonists, 2013)