Barkley L. Hendricks

Birth of the Cool

Barkley L. Hendricks

Book Pages: 140 Illustrations: 163 illustrations (incl. 146 i Published: January 2018

African American Studies and Black Diaspora, Art and Visual Culture > Art History

Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool accompanies the first career retrospective of the renowned American artist Barkley L. Hendricks. Hendricks was born in 1945 in Philadelphia. His unique work contains elements of both American realism and postmodernism, occupying a space between the portraitists Chuck Close and Alex Katz and the pioneering black conceptualists David Hammons and Adrian Piper. Hendricks is best known for his life-sized portraits of people of color from the urban northeast. His bold portrayal of his subject's attitude and style elevates the common person to celebrity status. Cool, empowering, and sometimes confrontational, Hendricks' artistic privileging of a culturally complex black body has paved the way for today's younger generation of artists.

This richly illustrated book contains 100 color images of paintings created from 1964 to the present. It focuses primarily on the artist’s full-figure portraits, as well as lesser known early works and the artist's more recent portal-like landscape paintings. The catalog includes the most comprehensive bibliography on Hendricks to date, a timeline of the artist's life, and an interview with the artist by Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem. It also includes essays by Barkley L. Hendricks, Duke University art historian Richard J. Powell, exhibition curator Trevor Schoonmaker, and Franklin Sirmans, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Menil Collection.

Publication of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University


“[T]he first retrospective for one of the most influential African American artists, Barkley L. Hendricks. . . . Highly recommended.” — K.N. Pinder, Choice

“Barkley L. Hendricks is one of the unsung heroes of American art. A gifted figurative painter, Hendricks’ work has profoundly impacted artists of various eras, but did not penetrate the public consciousness until recently. . . . Despite the erasure of black artists from the master narratives of art history, Hendricks continues to leave an indelible imprint on the visual arts. Ultimately, however, Barkley Hendricks’ splendid bodies reassert the necessity for representations of difference to have persistent visibility—especially in our supposedly post-racial art culture.” — Derek Conrad Murray, International Review of African American Art

“Hendricks needs to be recognized as a pioneer, and ‘Birth of the Cool’ is an important initial step in that direction. . . . In an era when the image Hendricks was looking for—an African-American figure with deep historical gravitas—has finally come to the forefront of national and international news (and has been reinforced in the public’s mind with appearances on every television and computer screen), it’s worth appreciating not only Hendricks’s skill as a painter, but also his fruitful investigation into his own artistic and personal identity.” — T. J. Carlin, Time Out New York

“The people Hendricks portrays look … well, cool. They look like they are just pausing in their busy, interesting lives to look at us. So it's not that we, the viewers, are looking at static, flat pictures of make-believe people, but more that we ourselves are under examination.” — Jean Tamarin, Chronicle of Higher Education


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Trevor Schoonmaker is Curator of Contemporary Art at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. He is the editor of Street Level: Mark Bradford, William Cordova and Robin Rhode, the catalog of a 2007 exhibition at the Nasher Museum of Art. He is also the editor of Black President: The Art and Legacy of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, D Troit: The Art, Music, and Culture of the Motor City, and Fela: West Africa to West Broadway.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Director's Foreword / Kimerly Rorschach 8
Curator's Acknowledgments / Trevor Schoonmaker 11
Artist's Acknowledgments / Barkley L. Hendricks 12
Birth of the Cool / Trevor Schoonmaker 14
Barkley L. Hendricks, Anew / Richard J. Powell 38
Conversation with Barkley Hendricks / Thelma Golden 58
Barkley Hendricks: Ordinary People / Franklin Sirmans 78
Palette Scrapings / Barkley L. Hendricks 88
Selected Artist Chronology / Barkley L. Hendricks 116
About the Contributors 128
Exhibition Checklist 130
Selected Bibliography 133
Reproduction Credits 137
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-938989-31-8 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-938989-44-8
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