May 27 – September 3, 2023
The internationally celebrated Barkley L. Hendricks (1945–2017) is best known for his expressive, large-scale portraits, many from the 1970s, which present a powerful vision of modern Black identity. Inspired by Old Master portraits and the desire for racial diversity in the artistic canon, Hendricks painted himself and the people around him—his neighbors, students, family, and strangers he encountered on the street. Barkley L. Hendricks in New London considers the work of this influential artist from a regional standpoint, exploring the role of place, community, and teaching in Hendricks’ career. With 45 works of art on view in a range of media, the exhibition explores the range and breadth of Hendricks’ artistic production.
Originally from Philadelphia, Hendricks studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts before attending Yale University, where he received an MFA in 1972. Hendricks then taught studio art at Connecticut College from 1972 until his retirement in 2010, living in New London. As his career advanced, Hendricks could have relocated to New York to be closer to the contemporary art world, but his decision to stay in southeastern Connecticut was significant and meaningful.
Barkley L. Hendricks in New London aims to better understand the artist’s work and legacy by considering how Hendricks’ oeuvre was shaped by geography and community and exploring connections between his art and his teaching. In addition to large-scale portraits, Hendricks painted landscapes and watercolor still lives and he produced prints and multi-media collages, exploring a range of topics and ideas. Hendricks was also an avid and prolific photographer who utilized his camera as a “mechanical sketchbook,” documenting everyday encounters and his wider travels. Some photographs were used as models for his painted portraits, while others were exhibited as stand-alone works of art. The exhibition will include ten newly archived photographs taken in New London, which were uncovered and printed since the artist’s death in 2017.