Created by the American artist Barkley L. Hendricks in 1974, Family Jules: NNN (No Naked Niggahs) depicts the artist’s friend George Jules Taylor. It is one of four works that Hendricks made showing this sitter, but its incorporation of the genres of the portrait and the nude make it unique within Hendricks’s oeuvre.
While Family Jules is often described in terms of its art historical referents, this In Focus complicates these readings. It looks afresh at the painting’s experimentation with form, particularly in relation to the aesthetics of the nude and constructions of realism and abstraction in the 1970s; explores how the work engaged with, and challenged, 1970s understandings of the black male body through style, assemblage and photography; and analyses the painting in the context of Hendricks’s refusal to be categorised – aesthetically, politically or ethnically.
Published in September 2017, the project is authored by Anna Arabindan-Kesson (Princeton University) and includes material from an interview with Barkley L. Hendricks.
This In Focus project was made possible through support from the Terra Foundation for American Art.