Oil and acrylic on linen canvas, 1978. 1829x1220 mm; 72x48 inches. Signed in oil, upper right.
Provenance: the artist; ACA Galleries, New York (1980); The Forbes Collection.
Exhibited: The Southern New England Invitiational Art Exhibition, Fairfield University, Fairfield, CT, 1978; National Midyear Show, Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH, summer, 1979; Barkley L. Hendricks, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, January 20 - March 30, 1980; Black Male - Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, November 10, 1994 - March 5, 1995, the Hammer Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA, April 25 - June 18, 1995; Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool, Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, NC, February 7 - July 13, 2008, Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica, CA, May 9 - August 15, 2009, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA, September 18 - December 20, 2009, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX, January 23, 2010 - April 18, 2010, with museum labels on the painting back.
Illustrated: Mary Schmidt Campbell, Barkley L. Hendricks, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Adam Gopnik, "Black Studies," The New Yorker, December 5, 1994, p. 135; Thelma Golden, Black Male - Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Trevor Schoonmaker. Barkeley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool. Durham, NC: Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, 2008, p. 86, cat. 38.
Tuff Tony is an excellent example of Barkley Hendrick's striking portraits, and one of his most widely exhibited paintings. Tuff Tony embodies the look and attitude that Barkley Hendricks famously captured in his late 1970s life-size figures against solid color backgrounds. It is a realist tour-de-force of subtle tones and shadows - from the yellow hue from the sun visor across the face to the subtle shift between the dark color of his sleeve to his arm. Tuff Tony embodies cool confidence.
Tuff Tony is an important work by the artist from his now iconic 1978 "white on white" series of paintings. In the late 1970s, Barkley Hendricks began a series of his large figure portraits in stylish white outfits painted on white backgrounds. In an interview with Thelma Golden, Hendricks called them "double whammies," combining the strong personalities of the figure coupled with the bold formal aspect of his "limited palette series." Hendrick's late 1970s paintings are now widely recognized as pioneering accomplishments in American art and portraiture, and significant precursors to many themes found in contemporary art today. Schoonmaker/Golden pp. 60-63.