King of Portraiture Barkley L. Hendricks Dies at 72

Barkley L. Hendricks, "Slick (Self-Portrait)", 1977, Jack Shainman Gallery
Barkley L. Hendricks, “Slick (Self-Portrait)”, 1977, oil, acrylic and magna on linen canvas; image courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery

He Electrified Black Portraiture with Unflinching Views

Painter Barkley L. Hendricks, a star of modern-day portraiture, died yesterday morning. His work, lauded for its fearless and individualized representation of blackness, is considered seminal in the genre of contemporary portrait painting.

Born in Philadelphia in 1945 and studying at the Pennsylvania Academy of Art as well as Yale for his BFA and MFA, the artist moved throughout the Northeast during his life.

Barkley Hendricks portraiture.BARKLEY L. HENDRICKS, October's Gone...Goodnight, 1973, Oil and acrylic on linen canvas, 72 x 72 inches, BH09.021. Courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery.
BARKLEY L. HENDRICKS, October’s Gone…Goodnight, 1973, Oil and acrylic on linen canvas, 72 x 72 inches, BH09.021. Courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery.

Within his immediate environs, he found his subjects. He most often painted friends, family and people in his community.

The representations vary from confrontational nudes to clothed figures showing off their style. Yet the swagger, however dressed or undressed, is contained.

Hendricks celebrated his models’ individuality and their personalities more than their fashion sense, no matter how notable that happened to be.

With a career stretching back into the 1960s and on into today, Hendricks championed the figure and found the art in his every day.

Jack Shainman Gallery has represented Hendricks since 2009.

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Courtney Jordan

About Courtney Jordan

  Courtney is the editor of Artist Daily. For her, art is one of life’s essentials and a career mainstay. She’s pursued academic studies of the Old Masters of Spain and Italy as well as museum curatorial experience, writing and reporting on arts and culture as a magazine staffer, and acquiring and editing architecture and cultural history books. She hopes to recommit herself to more studio time, too, working in mixed media.