His paintings represent several major American art movements of the 20th century—including abstraction, minimalism, and color field painting—and have appeared in numerous museum and gallery exhibitions. Several of his pieces are in the permanent collections of some of the world’s most prestigious museums, including New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Bannard didn’t intend to be a renowned artist. Largely self-taught, he confesses his early activity at Exeter was mostly “goofing off.”
“In high school, I was on the edge of becoming a juvenile delinquent,”
he says.“Exeter just turned me around completely.”
“My dreams of becoming a scientist were shattered by my first physics course at Exeter,” he says.“I got seven out of 100 on my first test.” Bannard’s pre-Exeter forays into science, however, fueled his interest in art.“Imaginative science was play for me, and that’s what art is,” he says.“I had to do something that was fun.”
As an undergraduate at Princeton, Bannard became friends with Frank Stella, later one of the foremost modernist painters of the ‘60s and ‘70s.They visited art museums and galleries in NewYork City and returned to school energized and motivated to paint.
After Princeton, Bannard and Stella were among a group of artists—including Larry Poons, Helen Frankenthaler, and Jules Olitski—who employed new methods of using paint and color in their works. Their large canvases washed with flat areas of bright color have been classified as color field painting and are considered by art historians as high points of American abstract painting.