Barkley L. Hendricks

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Barkley L. Hendricks
Born Barkley Leonnade Hendricks
(1945-04-16)April 16, 1945
Nicetown–Tioga, Philadelphia
Died April 18, 2017(2017-04-18) (aged 72)
New London, Connecticut
Known for portraiture

Barkley L. Hendricks (April 16, 1945 – April 18, 2017)[1] was a contemporary American painter who made pioneering contributions to black portraiture and conceptualism. While he worked in a variety of media and genres throughout his career (from photography to landscape painting), Hendricks' best known work took the form of life-sized painted oil portraits. In these portraits, he attempted to imbue a proud, dignified presence upon his subjects. He frequently painted black Americans against monochrome interpretations of urban northeastern American backdrops. Hendricks' work is unique for its marriage of American realism and post-modernism. Although Hendricks did not pose his subjects as celebrities, victims, or protesters, the subjects depicted in his works were often the voices of the under-represented blacks of the 1960s and 1970s. Hendricks even stood alongside his subjects and featured himself in works, like in Slick(Self portrait), 1977 where he painted himself nude in response to an art critic's comments on his show.

Early life and career[edit]

Born on April 16, 1945, in the North Philadelphia neighborhood of Tioga[2] Barkley Leonnard Hendricks was the eldest surviving child of Ruby Powell Hendricks and Barkley Herbert Hendricks. His parents had moved to Philadelphia from Halifax County, Virginia during the Great Migration when large numbers of African Americans moved out of the rural Southern United States. Hendricks attended Simon Gratz High School before going to Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA). After graduating PAFA in 1967 he received both his bachelor's and master's degrees from Yale University.[3]


Hendricks was Professor Emeritus of Studio Art at Connecticut College, where he taught drawing, illustration, watercolours and photography, from 1972 until his retirement in 2010.[4][3]

Hendricks' work is included in a number of major museum collections, including the National Gallery of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and the National Endowment for the Arts.[5]

Hendricks' first career painting retrospective, titled Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool, with works dating from 1964 to 2008, was organized by Trevor Schoonmaker at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University in spring 2008, traveled to the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Santa Monica Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.[6] 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 was represented by Jack Shainman Gallery in New York City.[7]

Selected published works[edit]

Catalogs featuring Hendrick's work include:[8]

  • Wasserman, Burton, Exploring the Visual Arts, 1976, Davis Publications, Inc ISBN 9780871920850
  • Thelma Golden. Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art, 1994
  • 25 Years of African-American Art, The Studio Museum in Harlem, 1995
  • The Barkley L. Hendricks Experience (exhibition catalogue). Lyman Allyn Art Museum
  • Mary Schmidt Campbell, The Studio Museum in Harlem Catalogue (1980).
  • Black President: The Art and Legacy of Fela Anikulapo Kuki (exhibition catalogue). New York: New Museum of Contemporary Art (2003).
  • 30 Americans: Rubell Family Collection (exhibition catalogue). Texts by Robert Hobbs, Franklin Sirmans, and Michele Wallace. New York: D.A.P./Distributed Art Pub. (2008).


  1. ^ "Acclaimed PAFA alum Barkley L. Hendricks has died". Retrieved 2017-04-19. 
  2. ^ Powell, Richard J. (2008). Cutting a Figure: Fashioning Black Portraiture. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226677279. 
  3. ^ a b Otfinoski, Steven (2014). African Americans in the Visual Arts. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 9781438107776. 
  4. ^ "Connecticut College: Barkley Hendricks". Connecticut College. 
  5. ^ "30 Americans: Barkley Hendricks". Corcoran Gallery of Art. Archived from the original on 2014-11-08. 
  6. ^ "Barkley Hendricks: Birth of the Cool". Nasher Museum of Art. 
  7. ^ "Jack Shainman: Barkley Hendricks". Jack Shainman. 
  8. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-07-14. Retrieved 2015-07-14. 

External links[edit]