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Nunna My Heros: After Barkley Hendricks’ 'Icon for My Man Superman,' 1969

© Fahamu Pecou. Photo by Peter Paul Geoffrion.

Nunna My Heros: After Barkley Hendricks’ 'Icon for My Man Superman,' 1969

Artist: Fahamu Pecou (born in Brooklyn, New York, 1975)
Culture: American
Date: 2011
Medium: Acrylic, gold leaf, and oil stick on canvas
63 x 49 1/2 inches (160 x 125.7 cm)
Classification: Painting
Credit Line: Gift of Marjorie (P’16, P’19, P’19) and Michael Levine (B.S.’84, P’16, P’19, P’19)
Label Text:This painting is from Fahamu Pecou’s series Art History NeXt, which challenges the concepts of inclusion and exclusion within the art historical canon (those works of art considered to be the most important or influential). Borrowing from prominent artists of the 1900s who challenged the prevailing norms of representation of their time, Pecou recasts himself in the mold of artists such as René Magritte, Man Ray, and, in this case, Barkley L. Hendricks. In this work Pecou inserts himself into one of Hendricks’s earliest self-portraits, Icon for My Man Superman (Superman never saved any black people – Bobby Seale) (1969).

Pecou first saw Hendricks’s work in 2008 when he traveled here to the Nasher Museum to see the exhibition Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool. In the artist’s own words he was “blown away”. “It was truly one of the first experiences where I saw myself reflected, not just culturally, but in terms of my own visual aesthetics and approach to art.” Hendricks and Pecou both challenge notions of black masculinity and representation of the black body. Pecou’s work both adopts and questions the constructed bravado that is used to market and sell hip-hop culture. Using his own likeness, Pecou becomes a representation of black masculinity, allowing the viewer to examine stereotypes and preconceived notions of what it means to be an African American man.

Provenance: Provenance: From the artist in 2011 to (Lyons Wier Gallery, New York); purchase 2012 by Marjorie and Michael Levine; gift 2012 to Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.
Object number: 2012.8.1