Professor Jefferson Singer edits special issue of Journal of Personality exploring the psychobiographies of change agents
The late Barkley Hendricks, a prolific painter and professor emeritus of studio art at Connecticut College, is profiled in the 2017 edition of The New York Times Magazine’s annual “The Lives They Lived” feature, which remembers some of the prominent “artists, innovators and thinkers we lost in the past year.” The piece is written by Jazmine Hughes ’12, an associate editor at The New York Times Magazine who was recently named to Forbes 30 Under 30 list of “young stars.”
Hendricks, who passed away on April 18 at the age of 72, insisted throughout his life that his powerful, life-sized oil portraits of mostly black friends, family members and strangers carried no political messages.
“The audacity of his subjects, who often faced forward in braggadocious stances, wearing monochromatic clothing, combined with the charged politics of the era, made critics label Hendricks a capital-B Black painter with political aims, which he vehemently rejected,” wrote Hughes.
Hendricks’ final solo show, at New York’s Jack Shainman Gallery in 2016, was widely considered to be his “most political to date.” Hendricks disagreed.
“Anything a black person does in terms of the figure is put into a ‘political’ category,” he told one reporter. “I’m doing what I want to do. I paint because I like to paint. I paint because I’m motivated for a variety of reasons that I don’t think are always necessary to blab about.”
Concludes Hughes, “He was just painting, he insisted to the end, what he saw.”
In addition to Hendricks, this year’s edition of “The Lives They Lived” features actress Mary Tyler Moore, rock climber Royal Robins, singer Chuck Berry and comedian Dick Gregory, among others.
Two weeks before his death, Hendricks gave his final interview to CC Magazine.