Barkley L. Hendricks is a painter and photographer best known for his realist and post-modern portraits of people of color living in urban areas beginning in the 1960s and 70s and continuing to the present. Trevor Schoonmaker, the organizing curator for Hendricks’ traveling exhibition Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool said, “His bold portrayal of his subject’s attitude and style elevates the common person to celebrity status. Cool, empowering, and sometimes confrontational, Hendricks’ artistic privileging of a culturally complex black body has paved the way for today’s younger generation of artists.”
From an Art in America feature by Janet Koplos in 2008 she says of Hendricks, “Almost without fail, Hendricks catches such sensitive indications of character in his portraits, and often with very mixed messages. His 1977 Brilliantly Endowed (Self-Portrait) presents him partly—strategically—undressed (the title, the catalogue notes, both touts and mocks a phrase from a Hilton Kramer review of his work). This is not a classical nude but a man with only the most central of his clothes off, which thus contradicts the conventions of heroic or romanticized figures. Hendricks is willing to violate his own privacy; the “undressed” quality is emphasized by the amount of personal ornament he still wears.”
“Fashion is a situation we all find ourselves in every day, when we wake up and have to put on clothes,” Hendricks says in a Women’s Wear Daily article about his (2013) exhibition Heart Hands Eyes Mind.
Hendricks was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and currently lives and works in New London, CT. He earned both his BFA and MFA from Yale University and was the subject of a large-scale traveling exhibition, Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool, organized by Trevor Schoonmaker at the Nasher Museum of Art, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina (2008), which traveled to the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2008-2009), Santa Monica Museum of Art, California (2009), Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia (2009-2010) and the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Texas (2010).
His work is included in numerous public collections both within the United States and abroad, such as The National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; The Tate Modern, London, UK; Studio Museum, Harlem, NY; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA; Rubell Family Collection, Miami, FL; Nasher Museum of Art, Durham, NC; Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, OH; and the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.
Jack Shainman Gallery has represented Hendricks since 2009. His first solo exhibition with the gallery was Heart Hands Eyes Mind (2013).
BARKLEY L. HENDRICKS NEWS
Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties offers a focused look at painting, sculpture, graphics, and photography from a decade defined by social protest and American race relations. In observance of the fiftieth anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, this exhibition considers how sixty-six of the decade’s artists, including African Americans and some of their white, Latino, Asian American, Native American, and Caribbean contemporaries, used wide-ranging aesthetic approaches to address the struggle for racial justice.
The 1960s was a period of dramatic social and cultural upheaval, when artists aligned themselves with the massive campaign to end discrimination and bridged racial borders through creative work and acts of protest. Bringing activism to bear in gestural and geometric abstraction, assemblage, Minimalism, Pop imagery, and photography, these artists produced powerful works informed by the experience of inequality, conflict, and empowerment. In the process, they tested the political viability of their art, and originated subjects that spoke to resistance, self-definition, and blackness.
March 1, 2013
Barkley L. Hendricks has his own distinct sense of dress. On a recent mucky day, the artist is in a gloomy monochromatic ensemble: black loafers, black jeans, black vest over a black oxford, and a black handkerchief wrapped around his neck, accentuating his fuzzy salt-and-pepper goatee. His accessories have a little more quirk: a leather fedora, a trio of chunky gold chain bracelets and a toothpick tucked discreetly behind his ear.
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March 26, 2013
The Studio Museum in Harlem’s 2008 retrospective for Barkley L. Hendricks proved that he was one of the defining artists of the postwar era, albeit working in a mode that hadn’t yet earned him the recognition he deserved. Since the 1960s, Mr. Hendricks has been painting life-size portraits of black people, typically posing in front of monochrome backdrops. His subjects are almost always prepossessing and confident, meeting the viewer’s gaze head-on. The paintings were inspired by a trip he took through Europe when he was in his 20s, and everything that he did not see in the art there.
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