Barkley L. Hendricks, a painting pioneer who dedicated much of his work to capturing subjects of color,died early Tuesday morning of natural causes, Artnet reports. He was 72 years old.
Jack Shainman, Hendricks gallery, released a statement confirming his death:
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 artists artist, always dedicated to his singular vision; he was a figurative painter when it was trendy and especially when it wasnt.
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 artists artist, always dedicated to his singular vision; he was a figurative painter when it was trendy and especially when it wasnt. 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 islands diverse landscape and people. Barkley's groundbreaking oeuvre represents everyday people, shining a light on subjects who werent 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. #BarkleyHendricks #RIP #jackshainmangallery
Hendricks was known for his vibrant portraits, life-size paintings pulsing with subjectivity and style. Inspired by jazz culture and bold fashion, he rendered images that captured complex interiority and performed pizzazz with equal enthusiasm.
As Huey Copeland wrote in Artforum in 2009, Hendricks not only valorized blackness but gave rise to emphatic displays of a new, self-conscious to-be-looked-at-ness. Although throughout his life Hendricks continuously denied that his paintings were political, his work paid tribute to the excellence and beauty of young black men at a time when such subjects were rarely immortalized in paint.
His paintings simultaneously celebrated the splendor and flair of everyday people, while acknowledging how black bodies are consumed by white audiences through the structure of the art establishment. Hendricks explored the intersection of the black experience and painting history, Christopher Knight wrote in 2009.