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Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool on View at Studio Museum in Harlem

NEW YORK, NY.- The Studio Museum in Harlem is proud to present Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool, the first career retrospective of the renowned American artist. Hendricks (b. 1945) is best known for his life-size portraits of people of color from the urban northeast in the 1960s and 70s. His bold portrayals of attitude and style capture a moment of fashion following the civil rights movement—he depicts iconic power within his subjects. Unique among his contemporaries, Hendricks’s body of work connects American Realism and Postmodernism, occupying a space between portraitists such as Chuck Close and Alex Katz and pioneering black Conceptualists such as David Hammons and Adrian Piper.

Birth of the Cool includes paintings from 1964 to the present, such as Fela: Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen … (2002), Tuff Tony (1978) and Lawdy Mama (1969), which is part of the Studio Museum’s permanent collection. Alongside his iconic portraits, the exhibition also features many of Hendricks’s earlier works and his more recent portal-like paintings of landscapes in Jamaica, where he returns annually to paint en pleine air.

The exhibition was organized by Trevor Schoonmaker, curator of contemporary art at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. The exhibition opened at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University in winter 2008 and will travel to the Santa Monica Museum of Art in California in spring 2009, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia in fall 2009 and the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston in early 2010.

A denizen of the East Coast, Hendricks was born in Philadelphia in 1945, studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and earned his BFA and MFA from Yale University. He is a professor of art at Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut, 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 in New London.

His work is represented in numerous public collections, including those of the National Gallery of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Columbus Museum of Art, Chrysler Museum, Yale University Art Gallery, Nasher Museum and Studio Museum.

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