Barkley Hendricks posterized at PAFA

sponsored

In an emotional opening ceremony at his solo exhibit Birth of the Cool, artist Barkley L. Hendricks lost his cool for a moment.

Barkley Hendricks speaking at PAFA opening of his exhibit Birth of the Cool
Barkley Hendricks speaking at PAFA opening of his exhibit Birth of the Cool; photo by Linda Johnson

The exhibit at the artist’s alma mater, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts,  is a double homecoming. He grew up in Philadelphia and went to the public schools here. He spoke shortly after being presented a framed poster picturing a number of successful people–Hendricks is one of them–who came from Philadelphia’s public schools.

Former teacher and mentor Freddie Bacon, the artist's mother, and the artist
Former teacher and mentor Freddie Bacon, the artist’s mother, and the artist; photo by Linda Johnson

Hendricks was clearly moved, and seemed for a moment struck with disbelief. He thanked his teachers, especially a Mrs. Bridges and a Mr. Freddie Bacon–Bacon was there and stood up when his name was called. “If it weren’t for [Bacon’s] leadership…I’ll just leave it at that,” Hendricks said.

Then he switched to a more humorous note: “I describe myself as being pre-aerosol,” referring to graffiti and his youth.

The poster includes Hendricks (third face in second row) along with Will Smith, Dawn Staley, and Kevin Eubanks, to name just a few of the 33 pictured.
The poster includes Hendricks (third face in second row) along with Will Smith, Dawn Staley, and Kevin Eubanks, to name just a few of the 33 pictured; photo by Linda Johnson

And then he began tearing up. “My feelings are beyond words [long pause as he tried to gather himself] because I could have been dead.”

After that, he spoke briefly about art–the substance of his triumphant return. It isn’t often that an artist gets two rounds of success, but that is what happened to Hendricks. He was hot, then not, and now we have “Birth of the Cool.” I just want to say the life-size portraits are spectacular, smart, and best viewed in person, where they are positively luminous. I could say there’s no Kehinde Wiley without Barkley Hendricks, but that makes Hendricks sound like merely a stepping stone, a means to an end. Hendricks is an end in and of himself.

Tags

barkley, barkley l. hendricks, pafa, pennsylvania academy of fine arts

sponsored
sponsored

Moving Artblog Forward - Celebrating 17 Years - Donate Today!

Artblog is passionate about art. If you are too, please help us in our Annual Appeal Campaign!

Donate Today!

Send this to a friend