Barnaby Furnas

Throughout his practice, Philadelphia-based artist Barnaby Furnas (b. 1973; Philadelphia, PA) examines “the personal in a historical way, and the historical in a personal way,” probing themes of human triumph and tragedy through ecstatic depictions of battle scenes, biblical tales, literary epics, and natural disasters in canvases that seem to vibrate with pure feeling. Renowned for his methodical investigation into the tools and materials of painting, Furnas pulls from a diverse cache of innovative painterly techniques—pouring, splashing, flooding, patterning, burning—to produce kaleidoscopic scenes that shatter with fragmented action and bursting emotion that is barely contained within their surfaces.  


In his newest work, Furnas takes a deliberate turn inward. Combining his interests in historic figures and flood painting techniques, Furnas examines the role of the artist and the very act of painting. Set in the artist’s studio and replete with his signature gestural brushwork, rich colors, and tangible dynamism, Funas’s recent work represents a marked shift in his practice, as he turns to the process of painting, becoming witness to the act of making and reveling in the freedom and drama of creation itself.


Furnas’s work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions in the United States and abroad, including at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, MO; the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, CO; and the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, United Kingdom. His work was featured in the 2004 Whitney Biennial and has been included in group exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tucson, AZ; the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, TN; the Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA; the Buffalo AKG Art Museum, NY; the Kasama Nichido Museum, Ibaraki, Japan; the National Arts Club, New York, NY; the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburg, PA; Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, TX; deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, MA; the Frye Art Museum, Seattle, WA; and the Krannert Art Museum, Champaign, IL, among others. His work is included in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Houston, TX; the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, TX; the Buffalo AKG Art Museum, NY; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA, amongst others. Furnas earned an MFA from Columbia University and a BFA from the School of Visual Arts. The artist lives and works in Philadelphia, PA.