Art & Design

April 19, 2017

Remembering Pioneering Artist Barkley Hendricks

Documenting black beauty and excellence since the 60s

  • Written by Amuse Team

Philadelphia-born artist Barkley Hendricks was a renowned painter and photographer, best known for his ultra-realist post-modern portraits of people living in urban areas throughout the 60s and 70s, up until the present day.

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Tuff Tony, 1978 oil and acrylic on linen canvas 72 x 48 inches signed in oil, upper right ©Barkley L. Hendricks. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

Having come of age during the Civil Rights era and the Black is Beautiful movement, Hendricks worked to create life-sized super-vibrant portraits of people of colour that explored the complexities of black identity.

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Brilliantly Endowed, 1977 Oil and acrylic on linen canvas 66 x 48 inches 72 x 53 3/4 x 2 inches framed ©Barkley L. Hendricks. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

From jazz musicians to athletes, his travelling retrospective Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool saw the artist document portraits of African-American men that are “Decidedly inconclusive” said Huey Copeland in his take on Hendricks in a cover story for Artforum’s April 2009 issue, where he stated that the “artist’s pictures . . . not only valorised blackness but gave rise to emphatic displays of a new, self-conscious ‘to-be-looked-at-ness.’”

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Sweet Thang (Lynn Jenkins), 1975-1976oil on linen 52 x 52 inches signed upper right corner ©Barkley L. Hendricks. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

Barkley’s work will be included in Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, at the Tate Modern from July 12 to October 22

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