Barkley L. Hendricks

1945–2017

Barkley L. Hendricks, ‘Family Jules: NNN (No Naked Niggahs)’ 1974
Family Jules: NNN (No Naked Niggahs) 1974
© Estate of Barkley L. Hendricks. Courtesy of the artist’s estate and Jack Shainman Gallery, NY.
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Biography

Barkley L. Hendricks (April 16, 1945 – April 18, 2017) 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 Brilliantly Endowed (Self portrait), 1977 where he painted himself nude in response to an art critic's comments on his show.

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