It is with great sadness that we announce that Barkley L. Hendricks passed away this morning. He was 72 years old. He is survived by his wife Susan of 34 years.
We have had the great honor of working with Barkley since 2005. He was a situational painter, documenting the world around him in vivid and highly detailed paintings that capture the distinctive personalities of his subjects. He was a true artist’s artist, always dedicated to his singular vision; he was a figurative painter when it was trendy and especially when it wasn’t.
In addition to his artistic practice, Barkley was an esteemed professor dedicated to his students at Connecticut College during his decades-long tenure from 1972 to 2010. Barkley shared a passion for Jamaica, and every winter, he and Susan traveled there, and he found a well of inspiration for his paintings and photography in the island’s diverse landscape and people.
Barkley's groundbreaking oeuvre represents everyday people, shining a light on subjects who weren’t typically depicted in life-sized oil paintings. His work paved the way for a new generation of figurative painters, and his absence in the art world will surely be felt.
Trevor Schoonmaker, Chief Curator of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, and dear friend of the artist, shared these words today:
"Over the past seventeen years Barkley and I have worked closely together on numerous exhibitions, talks and projects, but it is his deep friendship that I will miss the most. To be blunt, he changed the course of my life. With so many artists and writers now responding to his paintings and photography, Barkley stands out as an artist well ahead of his time. Though his work has defied easy categorization and his rugged individualism kept him outside of the spotlight for too many years, his unrelenting dedication to his pioneering vision has deeply inspired younger generations. Look at the highly accomplished works of Rashid Johnson, Fahamu Pecou, Robert A. Pruitt, Amy Sherald, Jeff Sonhouse, Mickalene Thomas, and Kehinde Wiley, just to name a handful. Today Barkley’s extensive body of work is as vital and vibrant as ever, and the full impact of his art and teaching is only beginning to
Hendricks was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1945. He earned both his BFA and MFA from Yale University and was the subject of a large-scale traveling exhibition, Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool, organized by Trevor Schoonmaker at the Nasher Museum of Art, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina (2008), which traveled to the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2008-2009); Santa Monica Museum of Art, California (2009); Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (2009-2010); and the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Texas (2010). This summer, Barkley’s work will be included in Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, on view at the Tate Modern, July 12—October 22, 2017.
Hendricks’ work is included in numerous public collections both within the United States and abroad, such as The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York; National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, D.C.; The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; The Tate Modern, London; Studio Museum, Harlem, New York; Museum of Fine Art Houston, Houston, Texas; Nasher Museum of Art, Durham, North Carolina; Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Ohio; and the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The gallery will continue to represent Barkley’s outstanding legacy through ongoing advocacy of his tremendous body of work.