Nasher Museum Presents Hendricks Exhibit
"Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool," the first career retrospective of the American artist's paintings, will be on view at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University through July 13.
Best known for his life-sized portraits of people of color from the urban Northeast, Hendricks' bold portrayal of his subjects' attitude and style elevates the common and overlooked person to celebrity status. His work connects the art movements of American realism and post-modernism, occupying a space between portraitists Chuck Close and Alex Katz and pioneering black conceptualists David Hammons and Adrian Piper.
"Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool" will include 57 paintings from 1964 to the present. The exhibition will travel to the Studio Museum in Harlem this fall, the Santa Monica Museum of Art next spring, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia in fall 2009 and the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston in early 2010. Vogue magazine included the exhibition in its "The Vogue 25" cultural highlights of 2008.
"The work of Barkley Hendricks is a wonderful discovery -- often elegant and sometimes confrontational, but always stunning," said Kimerly Rorschach, the Mary D.B.T. and James H. Semans director of the Nasher Museum. "We are proud that this unprecedented show of one of America's most important, yet long overlooked, artists will originate at the Nasher Museum."
Hendricks was born in Philadelphia in 1945, studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in fine arts from Yale University. He is a professor of art at Connecticut College in New London, Conn., where he has been teaching since 1972.
Hendricks made his mainstream museum debut at the Whitney Museum of American Art in the 1971 show "Contemporary Black Artists in America." The Studio Museum in Harlem organized his first major solo show in 1980. In 1994, his work was part of the Whitney's "Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art." In 2001, a large solo show, "The Barkley L. Hendricks Experience," was organized by the Lyman Allyn Art Museum, New London, Conn.
The new show at the Nasher Museum is organized by Trevor Schoonmaker, the museum's curator of contemporary art.
Hendricks' oil portrait of Fela Kuti was an important new work in the 2003 New Museum exhibition, "Black President: The Art and Legacy of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti," also curated by Schoonmaker. And in 2005, Hendricks' work was included in "Back to Black -- Art, Cinema and the Racial Imaginary" at Whitechapel Art Gallery in London.
His work is represented in numerous public collections, including the National Gallery of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Columbus Museum of Art, the Chrysler Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Yale University Art Gallery and the Nasher Museum.
"Barkley Hendricks has always been ahead of his time," Schoonmaker said. "His work touches upon many of the movements of the '60s and '70s -- pop art, photo realism, minimalism, black nationalism -- but he has always done his own thing and avoided easy categorization. His ground-breaking work is as fresh today as it was 30 and 40 years ago, and a generation of young artists is deeply indebted to him."
The exhibition is composed primarily of full-figure portraits, for which Hendricks has been most recognized, as well as lesser-known early works and the artist's more recent portal-like paintings of the Jamaican landscape, where he returns annually to do outdoor "en pleine air" painting.
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated 140-page color catalogue, distributed by Duke University Press, that includes contributions from Hendricks; Schoonmaker; Richard J. Powell, Duke's John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art and Art History; Thelma Golden, director and chief curator of the Studio Museum; and Franklin Sirmans, curator of modern and contemporary art at the Menil Collection.
The exhibition and related programs are sponsored in part by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art, the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation and the North Carolina Arts Council with funding from the state of North Carolina.
The Nasher Museum of Art, designed by Rafael Violy, is located at 2001 Campus Drive at Anderson Street. The museum includes a caf and gift store.
The museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday; and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
The museum is closed Mondays. Suggested admission is $5 adults, $4 for seniors and members of the Duke Alumni Association, $3 for non-Duke students with identification and free for children 16 and younger. Admission is free to Duke students, faculty and staff with Duke Cards.
Visit www.nasher.duke.edu for more information.
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