Mike Henderson      Works  |  Bio  |  Press  |  Exhibition Views

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American, b. 1944
Lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area, California


Pioneering Bay Area artist, musician, and filmmaker Mike Henderson was born and raised in Marshall, Missouri before moving to the Bay Area to attend the San Francisco Art Institute in the 1960s. 

Henderson’s early figurative paintings reveal his experiences with racism and politics, as well as the eclectic artists and musicians in mid-century San Francisco. Since the 1980s, he has become known for abstract, highly gestural paintings that demonstrate a palpable connection to post-war abstraction and a defining instinct for improvisation. Working with a palette knife as much as a brush, his tactile canvases testify to the physicality of his approach and his visceral relationship to material and surface. Henderson’s lived experiences, conversations he has heard, and places he has visited —those moments that “stick to your retinas”—are all conjured up and manifested in his work through texture, form, and color. 

In addition to painting, Henderson is an accomplished blues guitarist and filmmaker, having performed at music halls and festivals around the world, and created a series of experimental short films. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1973 and is a two-time recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Grant (1989, 1978). 

Henderson’s work as a painter and filmmaker has been exhibited in such distinguished institutions as Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA; de Young Museum, San Francisco, CA; and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2020, his early works will be the subject of a highly anticipated retrospective exhibition at the Manetti Shrem Art Museum at UC Davis. Henderson’s paintings are included in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; Oakland Museum of Art, CA; Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA; Phoenix Art Museum, AZ; and Honolulu Academy of Art, HI.