The deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, in Lincoln, Massachusetts, announced today that Barkley Hendricks is the winner of this year’s Rappaport Prize, which is awarded annually to a contemporary artist whose work is tied to New England. Hendricks, who lives in Connecticut, will receive $25,000 from the museum.
Hendricks’s work typically takes the form of full-body portraits. Since the mid-’60s, the artist has been painting black Americans he saw on city streets. Set against flat, monochromatic backgrounds, these portraits are sly subversions of an art-historical genre—they bring to the fore the economic and social factors that guide his subjects’ lives, and they also revise portraiture to include black, typically middle- and lower-class sitters. Hendricks’s portraits have gone on to inspire such artists as Kehinde Wiley and Mickalene Thomas.
“His work is beautiful, thought-provoking, and culturally relevant,” John B. Ravenal, the executive director of the deCordova, said in a statement. In response, Hendricks said, “A big thank you to deCordova for this award. I feel honored to be the recipient of the Rappaport Prize. I am proud of my relationship with John Ravenal and [chief curator] Jennifer Gross; deCordova is lucky to have two hip people at the lead.”