Hailed as the father of the Neo-Mannerist style, Ernie Barnes is widely regarded as one of this country’s foremost figurative painters and the leading African-American artist living today.The power, grace, intensity, and fluidity of his work – combined with his unique Neo-Mannerist style and depictions of Genre and sports themes – have given him an unqualified place in the history of modern art and an international following.

Based on his signature use of serpentine lines, elongation of the human figure, clarity of line, unusual spatial relationships, painted frames, and distinctive color palettes, art critic Frank Getlein credited Barnes as the founder of the Neo-Mannerism movement – because of the similarity of technique and composition prevalent during the 16th century, as practiced by such masters as Michelangelo and Raphael.

Getlein based his conclusion on an examination of a number of the artist’s paintings. Among them, he noted how Barnes’ “High Aspirations” had “all the characteristics of Mannerism: fantastically elongated length of body and limbs; the serpentine line of the body as it reaches for the basket; the purity of the austere colors of the whole scene; and the use of space for purpose of isolation and hence intensification of the figure and its effort and feeling.”