Barkley L. Hendricks
African American artist



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Barkley L. Hendricks
African American artist
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Date of Birth

April 16, 1945

Place of Birth

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Date of Death

April 18, 2017

Place of Death

New London, Connecticut, U.S.A.

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Barkley L. Hendricks was the only person worthy enough to borrow the title “birth of the cool” from Miles Davis.

What were his qualifications for such a rad title (and how do I get one)? Well, his portraits depicted the people around him - friends, family, random people off the street - with such vibrant colors, interesting poses, and ~chic~ clothing that people became entranced and obsessed with his work. But don’t be caught thinking that his portraits are political statements. Hendricks insisted that, “[his] paintings [are] about people that [are] part of [his] life. If they [are] political, it’s because they [are] a reflection of the culture we [are] drowning in.”

Born in 1945 in Virginia, Hendricks is the only surviving child of two sets of twins - three died at birth. The reproductive issues of Hendricks’ parents stopped there and four children followed Barkley. Unfortunately, this was not the end of their tragedy as Barkley’s younger brother was murdered in October 1999.

Hendricks went on to study at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and Yale University. He may or may not have used an MFA at Yale to escape the Vietnam War draft but Hendricks was a part of the New Jersey National Guard, which was never deployed. When asked if the army affected his work in any way, Hendricks replied, “Made me want to stay the f**k away from the Army.” It just wasn’t his gig I guess. Art and music were definitely more his jam. Before his death, Hendricks played in a band called Other Issues, named for their inability to find time to play together due to “other issues.”

Overall, Hendricks was, as Jack Shainman his gallerist put it, “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.” 



  1. "Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth Of The Cool - The Nasher Museum Of Art At Duke University". The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.
  2. Pedro, Laila. "BARKLEY L. HENDRICKS With Laila Pedro". N.p., 2016. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.
  3. Frank, Priscilla. "Painter Barkley Hendricks Dies At 72". The Huffington Post. N.p., 2017. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Barkley L. Hendricks

Barkley L. Hendricks (April 16, 1945 – April 18, 2017) was a contemporary American painter who made pioneering contributions to Black portraiture and conceptualism. While he worked in a variety of media and genres throughout his career (from photography to landscape painting), Hendricks' best known work took the form of life-sized painted oil portraits of Black Americans.

Early life

Born on April 16, 1945 in the North Philadelphia neighborhood of Tioga, Barkley Leonnard Hendricks was the eldest surviving child of Ruby Powell Hendricks and Barkley Herbert Hendricks. His parents moved to Philadelphia from Halifax County, Virginia during the Great Migration when large numbers of African-Americans moved out of the rural Southern United States. Hendricks attended Simon Gratz High School and graduated in 1963. He attended Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA). After graduating PAFA in 1967, Hendricks decided to enlist in the New Jersey National Guard and found work as an arts and crafts teacher with the Philadelphia Department of Recreation. In 1970, he began attending Yale University and graduated in 1972 with both a bachelor's and master's degree. At Yale, he studied with Bernard Chaet, Lester Johnson, Gabor Peterdi, Robert Reed, and the photographer Walker Evans.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Barkley L. Hendricks.