Barkley L. Hendricks - 20th c. & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Monday, December 7, 2020 | Phillips

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  • "Any consideration of my work has to take into mind the work of Barkley Hendricks. He is completely foundational to my understanding of how you can make painting relevant today."
    — Kehinde Wiley

    Coming from the internationally distinguished collection of William and Pamela Royall, Selina/Star, 1980, epitomizes Barkley Hendricks’s arresting portrayals of fashionable, super-cool Black and Latino subjects which revolutionized contemporary figurative painting. A superb example from the artist’s more celebrated bodies of work—nearly life-size portraits which were executed between the late 1960s and early 1980s—it showcases his unrivaled ability to capture not only the personality but the inner spirit of each and every one of his sitters.


    Depicting Selina, the daughter of one of Hendrick’s friends, in a cerulean shirt, yellow trousers, and flip-flops striking a pose, the present work translates the subject’s personality, mood, and flair for life with remarkable precision against an electric expanse. Though Hendricks is known for the wide array of vibrant colors he employed throughout his oeuvre, he often revisited his favorites: the palette of Selina/Star is redolent of the brilliant yellow he used seven years earlier in Woody, 1973 and which he would use two years later for his subject’s attire in Icon for Fifi, 1982. This mastery of color and faculty for encapsulating such a distinctive sartorial individuality has left an indelible mark on art history, and has influenced a generation of artists—from Kehinde Wiley to Mickalene Thomas to Amy Sherald.


    Commuters wait for the train in Philadelphia, circa 1975.
    Commuters wait for the train in Philadelphia, circa 1975.

    "Hendricks's women and men are self-possessed, self-conscious, and self-fashioned, and therefore exude a cool demeanor that is both sensorially distinct from the world-at-large and, yet, ever so conscious of and sensitive to being the object of countless spectators." 
    — Richard Powell
    Riffing on the Old Masters


    While Hendricks was an undergraduate at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1966, he embarked on a modern-day Grand Tour and travelled around Europe, visiting museums across the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, and the Netherlands immersing himself in the Western canon. He was particularly struck by the court portraits of Diego Velázquez and Anthony van Dyck; in fact, Hendricks felt compelled to copy the latter’s Portrait of Agostino Pallavicini, 1621, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, which he saw when it was on loan to the National Gallery in London. Upon gathering the materials to begin imitating the work, however, he reflected on how he had encountered virtually no Black subjects on his trip and that—in essence—Blackness was a lacuna in Western art history. He realized that by appropriating Renaissance imagery and depicting his friends and peers, he could create an art that was his alone.

  • Selection of Barkley Hendricks Paintings in Notable Museum Collections

  • Hendricks’s Muses


    Hendricks’s portraits are often read as inherently political—especially when discussed in context with the rise of the Blank Panther Party in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Ironically, however, the artist did not intend for his work to have any palpable ideological subtext: for example, his 1969 masterpiece Lawdy Mama, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York is typically thought to portray Angela Davis or Kathleen Cleaver, but is actually a depiction of Hendricks’s cousin. 


    “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 – family, friends, associates, students and local characters from the neighborhood,” Trevor Schoonmaker, Chief Curator of the Nasher Museum of Art, Duke University, elucidated. “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.”i


    “My paintings were about people that were part of my life,” Hendricks expressed. “If they were political, it's because they were a reflection of the culture we were drowning in.”ii

    "His bold portrayal of his subject’s attitude and style elevates the common person to celebrity status. Cool, empowering, and sometimes confrontational, Hendricks’ artistic privileging of a culturally complex black body has paved the way for today’s younger generation of artists."
    — Trevor Schoonmaker

    Property from the Collection of Pamela K. and William A. Royall Jr.


    The present work arrives at auction from the collection of pioneering Virginia-based philanthropists Pamela and William Royall, prominent collectors of 20th century and contemporary art in the American South. The collection reflects their broad interests, from well-known artists from the 20th century to emerging and established Black artists. Committed arts patrons and forces of change in Richmond, the Royalls spearhead the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts’s recent acquisition of Kehinde Wiley’s sculpture Rumors of War as board members of the institution and were instrumental to the museum’s expansion of the diversity of its collection. Believing in a vision of greater inclusivity for Richmond, the Royalls established a non-profit art gallery for the collection, Try-me, which was open without charge to the public, which fostered a space for local artists and education.


    Cut from the Archives



    Collectors Digest


    • As more and more contemporary artists name Barkley Hendricks as their greatest inspiration—and since his death in April 2017—the artist’s market has seen unprecedented demand.


    • His auction record has been set four times since 2017—and now sits at $3,740,000—but works by Hendricks have sold for far more privately.

    "I can confirm private secondary sales for Barkley’s figurative paintings have far surpassed auction records."
    — Jack Shainman

    Yocks, 1975.
    Achieved $3,740,000 in 2019.
    • Provenance

      The Artist
      Private Collection, New York
      Jack Shainman Gallery, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owners in 2012

    • Literature

      Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool, exh. cat., Nasher Museum of Art, Duke University, Durham, 2008, fig. 6, p. 69 (illustrated; erroneously dated 1975)

    • Artist Biography

      Barkley L. Hendricks

      American • 1945 - 2017

      An artist well ahead of his time, Barkley L. Hendricks radically embraced figuration in the 1960s—a time when abstraction ruled the global art world. It was whilst touring European museums that a young Hendricks was so taken aback by the lack of Black subjects in Old Master paintings that he embarked upon what is now his best known body of work: life sized portraits of Black and Latino men and women primarily from his native Philadelphia, depicted in contrapposto. The tonal subtleties and exquisite attention to light, fabric, and flesh in Hendrick’s portraits are utterly impressive, revealing Hendrick’s adoption of Old Master techniques with a Pop Art sensibility to render the full complexity of everyday people. In the commanding, towering presence and undeniable swagger of many of Hendricks’s subjects we recognize that very sense of cool detachment and defiant empowerment so characteristic of the artist’s revolutionary portraiture.

      A pioneer of post-war Black figuration, Hendricks paved the way for such artists as Kehinde Wiley and others. As Trevor Schoonmaker, the curator for Hendricks’ career retrospective in 2008, said in a nutshell, “His bold portrayal of his subject’s attitude and style elevates the common person to celebrity status. Cool, empowering, and sometimes confrontational, Hendricks’ artistic privileging of a culturally complex Black body has paved the way for today’s younger generation of artists.”

      View More Works

Property from the Collection of Pamela K. and William A. Royall Jr.



signed and dated "B. Hendricks '80" upper right; signed, titled and dated ""SELINA/STAR" 1980 BARKLEY L. HENDRICKS" on the stretcher
oil and acrylic on linen
60 1/8 x 50 1/8 in. (152.7 x 127.3 cm)
Painted in 1980.

Full Cataloguing

$800,000 - 1,200,000 

Sold for $937,500

Contact Specialist

Amanda Lo Iacono
Head of Auctions
New York
+1 212 940 1278 


20th c. & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 7 December 2020