B.4. Kehinde there was “Barkley Hendricks”

Greetings beautiful people

I’ve been meaning to post something about this artist for a while and just became distracted with deaths, and new shows etc.  Yet here I present to you, for those who are not familiar, the art of Barkely Hendricks.  Hendricks (born 1945) is an African American figurative painter who has notable works dating back to 1964.  His claim to fame (within the art world) comes from his life size portraits of contemporary blacks.  Barkley Hendricks pulled from art historical portrait references and imbued his portraits with the same majesty and spiritualism.  See the portrait above of Fela Kuti 2002.

It’s clear that this artist was a direct influence on the work of Kehinde Wiley in terms of subject matter and style.  What I love about this concept this that here we find influence without imitation.  Anyone who has seen the development of Wiley’s work clearly knows his portraits are beyond life size and take direct poses from art history and recontexualizes them.  Hendircks paints real people…correction…Hendricks paints “cool” people.  If you familiar with 60’s and 70’s black style, then one look and you are aware that your looking at some cool cats.

I love this! Lawdy Mama, 1969 (53 3/4 x 36 1/4 ins; oil and gold leaf on canvas); The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Gift of Stuart Liebman, in memory of Joseph B. Liebman. Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool, Paintings 1964-2007.

I feel bad that I did not discover Barkely Hendricks earlier in my career, because as a black artist, it would have gave me a different perspective to this level of figuration from someone who looks like me, in a art historical context.

Please enjoy the works that I’ve posted here and visit Barkely Hendricks (<–click here)  site coordinated through the Nasher Museum of Art.  The site is great and has audio commentary from artist, currators, and Thelma Golden herself.  I’ve also included his bio from wikipedia for additional info

Until next time

Yo brotha



Barkley L. Hendricks (born 1945, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is a contemporary American painter who has made pioneering contributions to black portraiture and conceptualism. While he has worked in a variety of media and genres throughout his career (from photography to landscape painting), Hendricks’ best known work takes the form of life-sized painted oil portraits. In these portraits, he attempts to imbue a proud, dignified presence upon his subjects, most frequently urban people of color. Hendricks’ work has been noted as unique for its matrimony of both American realism and post-modernism.

Hendricks earned his certificate at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and received both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Yale University. Currently, he serves as a professor of art at Connecticut College.

Hendricks’ work can be viewed in many public institutions, including the National Gallery of Art, the Chrysler Museum of Art, the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, among others. Hendricks’ first career painting retrospective, titled Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool, with works dating from 1964 to present, was organized by Trevor Schoonmaker at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University in spring 2008, has traveled to the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Santa Monica Museum of Art, is on view now at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and will finish at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston in spring 2010. Hendricks’s work was featured on the cover of the April 2009 issue of Artforum Magazine, with an extensive review of Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool. Hendricks is represented by Jack Shainman Gallery in New York.

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One thought on “B.4. Kehinde there was “Barkley Hendricks”

  1. Jeff Musser says:

    I too have been a fan of K. Wiley, but had no idea about Barkley Hendricks! Thanks for the info, I always love to learn about new* artists.

    *new to me anyways.

    Jeff Musser

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