Barkley Hendricks, the seventeenth recipient of the prestigious Rappaport Prize, was a figurative painter, who also worked with photography throughout his nearly five-decade-long career. His subjects were most often portraits of ordinary people he encountered on the street and in his life against backgrounds of bold, flat color. In Photo Bloke (2016), for example, Hendricks presents an African-American man dressed in a startlingly intense pink suit against a pink background, his dark face and hands offset by a bleached white shirt and shoes. Hendricks often experimented with the shape of his canvases, sometimes rotating them to hang diagonally or by using multiple small canvases to bring disparate images together to create a larger composition. In many of his recent works, Hendricks created these juxtapositions to encourage reconsideration of current events and the media’s polarizing coverage of race relations in America. In the painting, In the Crosshairs of the States (2016), the artist provocatively paired an image of the Confederate flag with a black man wearing a grey hoodie with his arms up and a sniper-like red laser dot on his forehead. Hendricks’ paintings had the effect of redirecting current political and cultural conversations and destigmatizing black culture.

“We are honored to award the 2016 Rappaport Prize to Barkley Hendricks,” noted John B. Ravenal, Executive Director of deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum. “His work is beautiful, thought-provoking, and culturally relevant. His strong connection to New England as a longstanding resident of New London, started while as a student at Yale and led to a nearly forty year career as a professor at Connecticut College.”

About the Artist

Born in Philadelphia in 1945, Barkley Hendricks earned a Certificate from The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, and a BFA and MFA from Yale University, New Haven. He served as Professor Emeritus of Studio Art at Connecticut College since 1972. His work is included in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Menil Collection, Houston; and Tate Modern, London, among many others. His work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions around the world, including a 2008 survey of his work, entitled Birth of the Cool, which traveled to five museums throughout the country. In 2010, Hendricks received the Amistad Center for Art & Culture President’s Award and in 2008 he received a Joan Mitchell Foundation Award. Hendricks sadly passed away on April 18, 2017.