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Barkley L. Hendricks
The Birth of the cool and the death of the master
Miranda Carroll, June 3, 2019
Fela_Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen . . ., 2002
Fela_Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen . . ., 2002
 
The painter Barkley L. Hendricks caught not only the mood, but also the dress of black Americans in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Indeed, the subhead of the Studio Museum’s exhibition, “Birth of the Cool,” gives the nod to the development of a style whose casual hipness and intimated militancy marked a generation of African Americans. Hendricks was at once an observer and a participant for this movement; as a chronicler of times that were both exuberant and tumultuous, he gave voice to the psychological glories and newfound pride of the black power movement. And as it has turned out, Hendricks, educated at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia and at Yale’s School of Art, had the interest to develop painting skills and styles that connected him to the history of Western painting. A teacher of art at Connecticut College since 1972, Hendricks admires such figures as Rembrandt and Caravaggio, who have influenced his compositions in striking ways. In consequence, the artist’s considerable technical skill has been joined to a confident, up-front vision of contemporary art, in which black American men and women are painted as resilient survivors and strong personalities. Hendricks thus is as important as social chronicler as he is as image-maker; indeed, his work demonstrates that the two are inexorably woven together in his powerful artistic vision.

This Dude Is Dope
This Dude Is Dope
 
con for My Man Superman (Superman never saved any black people – Bobby Seale), 1969
con for My Man Superman (Superman never saved any black people – Bobby Seale), 1969
 
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