I consider myself fairly familiar with contemporary American artists but maybe I’m not.  Recently, I was trying to catch up with reading the magazine from the New York Times weekend edition – it’s the only newspaper I get now because it gives me “all the news that’s fit to print” – and they had a series of articles written by different writers about some noteworthy people that passed away in 2017.  These were interesting in that they did not have the feeling of being obituary notices.  I read them all, including one about Barkley Hendricks, 1945 – 2017.  I tore out a section of the article because it had a quote of his that I really liked.  He said “I’m doing what I want to do.  I paint because I like to paint.  I paint because I am motivated for a variety of reasons that I don’t think are always necessary to blab about.”  That resonated with me – straightforward and direct.  I had never heard of Barkley Hendricks and I don’t remember ever seeing his artwork before so I thought I should do a little search on him.  I found this:


Barkley L. Hendricks’ socially charged work has spanned drastically diverse cultural climates, from the Black Power movement of the 1960s through the election of the United States’ first black president. While touring European museums in the ’60s, a 21-year-old Hendricks was so stricken by the lack of black presence in paintings of the Old Masters that he began his now best known work: life-sized paintings of urban black men (originally subjects from his hometown of Philadelphia) in empowered, classical depictions. Hendricks became a pioneer of black portraiture that pairs art history with questions of personal identity and cultural heritage, championed today by artists like Kehinde Wiley. Though primarily a painter, Hendricks credits photography as a key to his practice, which he studied under Walker Evans and often uses as reference to create his stunning, photorealistic portraits.

Now I wanted to see more of his work and here is a link to do that: http://www.JackShainman.com/artists/Barkley-Hendricks

Just look at his paintings!  And he studied under Walker Evans.  Well, it may have taken me a while to learn about him but I won’t forget him now.



Lawdy Mama – 1969