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Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool

Original Traveling Exhibition

February 07 – July 13, 2008
Barkley L. Hendricks, Bahsir (Robert Gowens) (detail), 1975. Oil on canvas, 83 1/2 x 66 inches (212.1 x 167.6 cm). Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. Museum purchase with additional funds provided by Jack Neely. © Barkley L. Hendricks; courtesy of the Estate of Barkley L. Hendricks and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. Photo by Brian Quinby.
Barkley L. Hendricks with his wife, Susan Hendricks, at the opening of Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool
Barkley L. Hendricks with his wife, Susan Hendricks, at the opening of Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool. Photo by Duke Photography.

The Nasher Museum presented the first career retrospective of American artist Barkley L. Hendricks’ paintings, an exhibition featured on the cover of Artforum magazine and highlighted in Vogue magazine’s “The Vogue 25” cultural highlights of 2008.

Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool opened at the Nasher Museum and traveled to the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Santa Monica Museum of Art in California, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia and the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.


Birth of the Cool: Barkley Hendricks

The Nasher Museum presents the second hardcover reissue of Barkley Hendricks: Birth of the Cool, the exhibition catalogue published by the Nasher Museum on the occasion of the artist’s 2008 painting retrospective. This richly illustrated book was edited by curator Trevor Schoonmaker, who wrote the introductory essay, and includes contributions from Richard J. Powell, the John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art and Art History at Duke University, Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem, and Franklin Sirmans, Director of the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM). The catalogue is distributed by Duke University Press. (Note: Please select “cloth” rather than “paperback” to purchase the book.) The hardcover reprint newly includes an in memoriam text and photographs by the artist, who passed away in 2017.

Featured Featured Video

Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool

by Nasher Museum Duration 06m 01s Published

Bold Portrayals of Attitude & Style

American artist Barkley L. Hendricks. Photo by J Caldwell.
American artist Barkley L. Hendricks. Photo by J Caldwell.

Hendricks is best known for his life-size portraits of people of color from the urban Northeast; he elevates the common and overlooked person to celebrity status with bold portrayals of his subjects’ attitude and style. The exhibition included 57 paintings from 1964 to the present.

Hendricks was born in Philadelphia in 1945, studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fine arts from Yale University. He is professor emeritus of studio art at Connecticut College in New London, Conn., where he taught from 1972 until he retired in 2010. He passed away in 2017.

Trevor Schoonmaker, Chief Curator and Patsy R. and Raymond D. Nasher Curator of Contemporary Art at the Nasher Museum, organized the show and edited the 140-page catalogue.

The Nasher Museum’s collection has grown to include three paintings and three photographs by Hendricks.

The 2008 exhibition and related programs were sponsored in part by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art, the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation and the North Carolina Arts Council with funding from the State of North Carolina.

Featured Featured exhibition

Barkley L. Hendricks: Works from the Collection

May 14 – July 30, 2017

The Nasher Museum presented Barkley L. Hendricks: Works from the Collection, at the entrance to Wilson Pavillion, as part of The Collection Galleries. American artist Barkley L. Hendricks was a great frie...

I have been given the monumental task of penning thoughts concerning my visits, residency, exhibition and homecoming to the Route 501 neighborhood. Monumental due to the many times I have visited and the special significance in my life of this area from southern Virginia down to Durham, N.C. Monumental because these visits cover a time span from my single-digit youth to just a couple of years ago. Monumental because of the very special place the Nasher Museum holds for me since the creative collaboration that became the Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool exhibition, its accompanying programs and my subsequent artist residency at Duke. Kudos and profound thanks, yet again, to Trevor Schoonmaker for his pivotal role.

Since I spent many summers up the road in Meadville, Va., coming to Duke and Durham was like a revisiting my early life. There is always encompassing hospitality from those associated with Duke University and its extended family that is warm and inviting. The organization and collaboration of the exhibition Birth of the Cool was both professional and personal. The professional piece rendered me ever appreciative and in awe of those many folks with whom I worked. The personal status extended to each activity and forum associated with BoTC.

Barkley L. Hendricks, New London, Connecticut, 2015
Featured Featured Nasher in the News

Super Fly

Barkley Hendricks's first traveling retrospective, at Duke University's Nasher Museum in February, showcases the majestic portraits he's been making since the 1960s, marrying Pop art, photorealism, black nationalism and Re...

view article on Vogue | Published January 21, 2008

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