Painter Barkley Hendricks Dies At 72

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.

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.

Hendricksinfluence is apparent in the work of contemporary artists like Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, who also create vivid figurative portraits of black Americans.