One thousand times.
That’s how often Barkley L. Hendricks figures he listened to Ashford and Simpson’s song Take All the Time You Need.
It was the summer of 1975. The American painter had followed his dancer girlfriend Adrienne Hawkins from Connecticut to Durham for two hot weeks during the American Dance Festival. She was working on choreography to that song; each day she’d come home, strip down, turn on the stereo and work on her moves.
After they returned to Connecticut, Hendricks began to compose the painting from live model sessions with Adrienne.
“When she started to pose for me, I had her completely nude on the couch,” Hendricks explained in a recent phone interview. “As the piece progressed, I started to add clothing. The underwear and the feather boa and the toe shoes and socks went on afterward because of her style, her fashion, in terms of being a dancer.”
All of the shoes in the painting belonged to Adrienne.
“I think she was doing something [in her dance] with a pink feather boa,” Hendricks said. “I thought it was beautiful enough to add to the composition.” Take All the Time You Need (Adrienne Hawkins) is a composite; Hendricks painted in another model’s face (the details obscured) on Adrienne’s body. Hendricks had long been painting composite pictures, often populated by composite people.
“What you see isn’t necessarily what’s in front of me,” Hendricks explained. “I have an extensive library of images. … I put together a number of people that weren’t necessarily walking-around souls, but they were a connection to real live people and fashion. I’ve been doing that for a long time.”
The painting is a bit unusual for Hendricks, however, in that he created a whole environment, not just a portrait. The scale of the figure and the geometric balance, he said, compelled him to add the couch, carpet and potted plant from other sources. “It’s a damn good painting.”
Adrienne’s mother had something to say about that painting. The dancer had told her mother that she was going to live with an artist in Connecticut, Hendricks said, and take classes at Connecticut College.
“Our first conversation was in a record store in Philadelphia called Sam Goody’s,” Hendricks said. “And when I started talking to her, she was beautiful and her eyes were hazel and I mentioned I’d like to do a painting.”
Much later, Adrienne’s mother saw the finished work. Hendricks had painted the dancer’s body but not her face. Not her hazel eyes. “Her mother leaned over [to Adrienne] and said, ‘And you have very beautiful eyes.’ ”
The artist chuckled, remembering that story.
That same 1975 trip to Durham gave Hendricks terrific material for his work. He remembers walking around Durham, “the decaying city,” with a camera around his neck. Durham was “still a part of the nuttiness of America in terms of the Southern thing.” Two photographs from that trip to Durham are a part of the Nasher Museum’s collection. He took photos at the American Dance Festival, too, and created a series of magnolias in watercolor.
Duke graduate David Lamond, (Trinity ’97, Law ’06), discovered the work in Birth of the Cool. He bought the work and now it’s returned home, so to speak, through his generosity. This January, he gave the painting to the Nasher Museum, where it is on view in the exhibition Sound Vision: Contemporary Art from the Collection.
“I liked the intensity of the painting and it seemed like a quintessential Barkley Hendricks,” Lamond said. “Given the Nasher’s focus on developing one of the best collections of African American artists in the country and the university’s current fundraising effort, I thought now would be a good time to give a meaningful piece to the museum.”
Read more stories from the Nasher Museum on Five Cubes.
TOP: Barkley L. Hendricks, Take All the Time You Need (Adrienne Hawkins), 1975. Oil on linen canvas, 72 × 72 inches (182.9 × 182.9 cm). Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, NC. Gift of Kelsey and David Lamond, 2014.6.1. © Barkley L. Hendricks. Photo by Peter Paul Geoffrion. MIDDLE: Barkley L. Hendricks, North Carolina Sisters, 1978 / 2010. Digital chromogenic print on Kodak Endura Matte paper, edition of 3, 20 x 30 inches (50.8 x 76.2 cm). Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, NC. Museum purchase, 2010.16.1. © Barkley L. Hendricks. BOTTOM: Barkley L. Hendricks, Wonder Woman, 1978 / 2010. Digital chromogenic print on Kodak Endura Matte paper, edition of 3, 20 x 30 inches (50.8 x 76.2 cm). Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, NC. Museum purchase, 2010.16.2. © Barkley L. Hendricks.