A PAINTING MADE 45 YEARS AGO by Barkley L. Hendricks (1945-2017) is being offered next week at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Day Auction in New York. “Jackie Sha-La-La (Jackie Cameron)” (1975) is a seated portrait of a female subject. The painting sold for $48,000 (fees included) at Swann Auction Galleries in 2010. A decade later, Sotheby’s estimates the lot will sell for $2 million to $3 million on Nov. 17. The multi-million estimate is about 50 times more than what the painting was purchased for and the highest estimate attached to a Hendricks painting since his work first appeared at auction in 2008.

The record price at auction for a Hendricks painting currently stands at $3.7 million. The benchmark was achieved last year when “Yocks,” a double portrait, sold for nearly three times the high estimate. That painting was also produced in 1975 and sold at Sotheby’s.


Lot 108: BARKLEY L. HENDRICKS (1945-2017), “Jackie Sha-La-La (Jackie Cameron),” 1975 (oil and acrylic on canvas, 50 x 60 inches / 127 x 152.4 cm; framed: 50 3/4 x 61 inches / 128.9 x 154.9 cm). | Estimate $2 million-$3 million. SOLD for ($2.3 million hammer price) $2,803,000 fees included. TOP LOT. 2nd Highest Price Achieved at Auction by Hendricks


Born in Philadelphia, Hendricks lived and worked in New London, Conn. He painted landscapes, still lifes, and basketball paintings inspired by abstraction. He was a photographer, too. But Hendricks is primarily recognized for his portraiture, a traditional genre he made his own.

Across his oeuvre, the artist’s subjects are visually fascinating individuals in one way or another. To a person, there’s an ever-present cool factor, which in some cases seems counterintuitive. His portrait of Jackie Cameron is a prime example.

A light-colored, floral-patterned carpet. A dark-colored, floral-patterned dress and a wide-brimmed hat donning a large white flower. The style choices are not the first to come to mind when one envisions so-called “cool.” And yet, “Jackie Cameron” is aloof and alluring and possesses a bit of mystery. The front of her dress shows some cleavage. Her eyes are shaded by the brim of her hat.

Hendricks has staged his subject and the sofa she is sitting on at odd angles. Wearing high-heel wedges, she’s positioned awkwardly in a nonetheless confident pose. She holds a can of Coca-cola, barely visible in the frame. The viewer wants to “see” her, to know more about her. Who is this woman whose portrait the artist titled after “Sha-la-la (Makes me Happy),” a 1974 hit song by Al Green?

While he was productive throughout his career, the great majority of the artist’s celebrated large-scale portraits were made between the mid-1960s and late 70s. More than three decades later, he gained renewed attention when the traveling exhibition “Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool” was organized by Trevor Schoonmaker at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University in Durham, N.C., where it opened in February 2008.

“Jackie Sha-La-La” was not among the works displayed in the show, but the painting is illustrated in the exhibition catalog, accompanying the artist’s chronology. The citation notes that the location of the painting is unknown.

“Birth of the Cool” was presented at five venues and had traveled to the last stop, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (Jan. 23-April 18, 2010), when the painting showed up at Swann in New York. Perfect timing for the consignor to potentially capitalize on nationwide recognition of Barkley’s practice.

Bidder response was moderate. On Feb. 23, 2010, “Jackie Sha-La-La” sold for $48,000 at Swann, against an estimate of $40,000-$60,000. At the time, Swann described the painting as only the second large-scale figurative work by the artist to be offered on the secondary market, following a few of his basketball paintings that came to auction in 2008 and 2009.


Lot 134: JACOB LAWRENCE (1917-2000), “The Workshop,” 1978 (gouache on paper, 28 1/2 x 20 inches / 72.4 x 50.8 cm; framed: 33 1/2 x 24 1/2 inches / 85.1 x 62.2 cm). | Estimate $300,000-$500,000. LOT WITHDRAWN


The first large-scale figurative painting by Hendricks to come to auction sold the year before at Swann to the Sheldon Museum of Art for $144,000. Another female portrait, “Bid ’Em In/Slave (Angie),” was purchased by the museum at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, in 2009.

The painting was featured in “Black Fire: A Constant State of Revolution” (Sept. 11, 2015-Jan. 3, 2016) and is currently on view in another group exhibition at the campus museum, “Persons of Interest” (Jan. 31, 2020-July 3, 2021).

THE FORTHCOMING SOTHEBY’S AUCTION includes 81 lots. In addition to the portrait by Hendricks, works by Mark Bradford, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Sam Gilliam, Titus Kaphar, Jacob Lawrence, and Glenn Ligon are featured.

The Lawrence lot is “The Workshop” (1978), a familiar and important image by the artist. The gouache on paper work has been exhibited in several shows over the years, beginning in 1978 at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. In recent years, it has been on extended loan to the Princeton University Art Museum (2015-20).

Kaphar’s “Columbus Day Painting” (2014) comes to auction from the collection of Dr. Robert B. Feldman, an ophthalmologist based in the Capital Region of New York. The painting was on view in “UnSeen: Our Past in a New Light, Ken Gonzales-Day and Titus Kaphar” at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.

Culture Type previously reported on that exhibition and thus described the work: “’Columbus Day Painting’ subverts the hero narrative of Christopher Columbus, the Italian explorer and colonizer. Inspired by John Vanderlyn’s 1846 painting, ‘Landing of Columbus,’ Kaphar shrouds Columbus and his crew in raw canvas, shifting the viewer’s focus to the indigenous people easily overlooked in the background, on the margins.”

The painting has also been featured in exhibitions showcasing Feldman’s collection at the Orlando Museum of Art and Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art in Virginia Beach, where “Shifting the Gaze: A Reconstruction of the Black & Hispanic Body in Contemporary Art From the Collection of Dr. Robert B. Feldman” is ongoing.

A lot note informs potential buyers that the loan of “Columbus Day Painting” has been requested for exhibitions on view through January 2022. CT


UPDATED (11/17/20): Sales results added


READ MORE about the Souls Grown Deep Foundation’s a resale royalty program benefitting Black artists from the American South

READ MORE a new artist resale rights contract in the United States that has a charitable component


Lot 107: TITUS KAPHAR, “Columbus Day Painting,” 2014 (oil and mixed media on canvas mounted to panel, 67 3/4 x 90 3/4 x 4 inches / 172.1 x 230.5 x 10.2 cm). | Estimate $300,000-$500,000. SOLD for ($420,000 hammer price) $528,200 fees included


A new series of books documents the practice of Barkley L. Hendricks. Volumes include “Barkley L. Hendricks: Works on Paper,” “Barkley L. Hendricks: Landscape Paintings,” and “Barkley L. Hendricks: Basketball.” Recently re-issued, “Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool” accompanied his traveling retrospective. The exhibition catalog “Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle” was recently published.


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