187
187

PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED EAST COAST COLLECTION

Barkley L. Hendricks
YOCKS
Estimate
300,000400,000
LOT SOLD. 942,500 USD (Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium)
JUMP TO LOT
187

PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED EAST COAST COLLECTION

Barkley L. Hendricks
YOCKS
Estimate
300,000400,000
LOT SOLD. 942,500 USD (Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium)
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Day Auction

|
New York

Barkley L. Hendricks
1945 - 2017
YOCKS
signed
oil and acrylic on canvas
72 by 48 in. 182.9 by 121.9 cm.
Executed in 1975.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

This work has been requested by the Hendricks Estate and Artistic Director Trevor Schoonmaker for the upcoming Triennial exhibition Prospect.4: the Lotus in Spite of the Swamp (Prospect New Orleans), which takes place November 18, 2017 through February 25, 2018.

Provenance

ACA Galleries Inc., New York
Private Collection, New Jersey (acquired from the above)
Thence by descent to the present owner

Literature

Exh. Cat., Durham, Duke University, Nasher Museum of Art (and traveling), Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool, February 2008 - April 2010, fig. 21, p. 123, illustrated in color

Catalogue Note

Sotheby’s is truly honored to present three historic and significant paintings by Barkley L. Hendricks. Completely fresh to the market and purchased directly from ACA Galleries in the 1970s and 1980s by a Distinguished East Coast Collection, these three early works embody the brazen directness and elegance that is synonymous with the artist’s distinctive brand of portraiture.

No artist has better exemplified a particular generation, urban aesthetic, notions of race or personal sensibility more acutely than Barkley L. Hendricks. His paintings can be described as nothing short of the definition of cool as his subjects—taken from live studio models and often from photographs by the artist—are often presented against stark, monochromatic backgrounds that serve to direct the viewer’s attention to each character’s facial expression, particular style of dress, hairstyle or effortlessly casual pose. His portraits were both challenging and incredibly radical to the 1970s art world as they “are neither clinically rendered photorealist representations nor culturally idealized or romantic images. Rather, they are tightly rendered and emotionally stirring, honest portraits of everyday people—his family, friends, associates, students and local characters from the neighborhood. They are people with distinctive style, personality and attitude that caught his attention and inspired a creative response. But to mainstream society of the 1970s, these images were both visually and conceptually loaded and thus potentially dangerous” (Trevor Schoonmaker, “Birth of the Cool,” in Exh. Cat., Durham, Duke University, Nasher Museum of Art (and traveling), Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool, 2008-2010, p. 25). To paint the stylish, confident everyday Black man or woman in the 1970s in the same style as “high” canonical portraiture completely invalidated the preexisting boundaries of what art is and should be. Such bold statements were unprecedented yet appreciated by patrons and critics alike.

Born in Philadelphia in 1945, Barkley L. Hendricks exhibited creative tendencies from an early age, first as a musician and then as an artist. He was accepted to the prestigious Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1963 where he quickly rose to prominence within the Philadelphia art community. While at PAFA, Hendricks first visited the legendary European art centers that would prove to have a lasting effect on his idiosyncratic brand of portraiture. While visiting the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the Prado in Madrid, Hendricks observed Rembrandt’s distinctive use of light and shadow, Frans Hals’ attention to detail in the folds of a sitter’s clothing and, most importantly, the use of a piece of glass or mirror in the composition to reflect a second landscape within the picture plane. This artistic tool is no better illustrated than in the powerful self-portrait entitled Innocence & Friend where Hendricks’ studio windows are reflected in the artist’s own red-brimmed aviators.

Hendricks’ engagement with the iconic paintings hanging in Europe’s most prominent museums extended beyond the similarities in rendering of paint. At a time when naturalist figurative painting had been abandoned in favor of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein’s ironic Pop figures drawn from mass media imagery or Agnes Martin and Brice Marden’s reductive, Minimalist approach to the medium, Barkley L. Hendricks seemed to singlehandedly revive the portraiture genre altogether. Yocks, painted in 1975, is a true masterpiece and major achievement, inspired by two figures Hendricks met in Boston. He elaborates: “There was the shine of the green leather coat and the ‘bling’ of the gold teeth…Yock was the name given to a dude who knew how to ‘rag.’ Rick Powell would call them dandies” (Barkley Hendricks, “Palette Scrapings” in ibid., pp. 105-107). With their decadent leather jackets, stylized platform shoes, twin tooth picks and undeniably lush white fur collar on the right figure, these Yocks are modern day aristocrats as seen through Hendricks’ eyes. Similarly, the man featured in The Way You Look Tonight/Diagonal Graciousness epitomizes the cool factor which defines Hendricks’ entire oeuvre. Dressed in head to toe black and set against a white and white gold leaf background (much like a Renaissance icon), it is the figure’s accents such as his rings, bright pink bubblegum and red cardinal that Hendricks focuses on as the defining aspects of the character. Staring down the viewer behind his red lip-shaped sunglasses, the figure both challenges and welcomes the viewer’s participation.

An innovator who was recently honored with a three-year, five-venue traveling retrospective exhibition in 2008-2010, Barkley L. Hendricks and his commentaries on the state of black figures within the trajectory of art history are firmly absolute. Trevor Schoonmaker, Chief Curator of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University sums up Hendricks’ inimitability as an artist, stating “Hendricks stands out as an artist ahead of his time. His work has defied easy categorization, and his unique individualism has landed him outside of the mainstream, but his bold and empowering portrayal of those who have been overlooked and underappreciated has positioned him squarely in the hearts of many. His personalized realism has a timeless appeal; speaking with today’s younger generation of artists gives one a sense for just how respected he is. By representing the black body in new and challenging ways, Hendricks’ pioneering work has unwittingly helped pave the way for future generations of artists of color to work with issues of identity through representation of the black figure. Today his body of work is as vital and vibrant as ever, and it should prove him to be a lasting figure in the history of American art” (ibid., p. 36).

"His portraits are unique in that they are neither clinically rendered photorealist representations nor culturally idealized or romantic images. Rather, they are tightly rendered and emotionally stirring, honest portraits of everyday people—his family, friends, associates, students and local characters from the neighborhood. They are people with distinctive style, personality, and attitude that caught his attention and inspired a creative response. But to mainstream society of the 1970s, these images were both visually and conceptually loaded and thus potentially dangerous."

Trevor Schoonmaker, "Birth of the Cool," in Exh. Cat., Durham, Duke University, Nasher Museum of Art (and traveling), Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool, February 2008 - April 2010, p. 25

Contemporary Art Day Auction

|
New York