Saturday, March 28, 2015

Ascension: A Century of African-American Art at Swann Auction Galleries

Once again, Swann Auction Galleries will make Beauford Delaney works available for purchase during an African-American Art sale. This spring's auction is called "Ascension: A Century of African-American Art." It will be held on Thursday, April 2 at 2:30 PM.

Three Beauford Delaney paintings will be auctioned at this event. Two are portraits and one is an abstract expressionist work.

Untitled (Abstraction in Green)
(1961) Oil on linen canvas
410x275 mm; 16x10 inches
Signed in oil, lower right recto. Dated in oil, lower left recto.
Signed, dated and inscribed "Clamart, Seine" in oil, verso.
Image courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Provenance: gift from from the artist; Don Fink, Paris, thence by descent to his estate; private collection, Paris.

Don Fink was an expatriate artist living in Paris who became part of Beauford Delaney's circle of friends soon after his arrival in Paris in 1953. They showed together in 1956 at Galerie Arnaud in a group exhibition of abstract American painters.

Swann's catalog describes this painting as "a radiant example of Delaney's mid-career abstraction in a warm, yellowish green." Its estimated value is $30,000 to $40,000.

Untitled (Portrait of a Young Man)
(circa 1930-35) Color pastels and charcoal on gray, textured wove paper
597x445 mm; 23x17½ inches
Signed in charcoal, lower left
Image courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Provenance: acquired directly from the artist's brother Joseph Delaney; private collection.

The auction catalog qualifies this portrait as "sensitive" and indicates that it was likely created by Beauford soon after he moved to New York. He may have painted it to show at his first solo exhibition, Exhibit of Portrait Sketches by Beauford Delaney, which was held at the 135th Street Branch of the New York Public Library in 1930. The show consisted of five pastel and 10 charcoal portraits.

The estimated value of Untitled (Portrait of a Young Man) is $6,000 to $9,000.

Spanish Youth
(1967-68) Oil on linen canvas
610x457 mm; 24x18 inches.
Signed and dated in oil, lower right.
Image courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Provenance: acquired directly from the artist; Richard A. Long, Atlanta; thence by descent to his estate.

This painting dates over ten years after Beauford visited Spain with his friend Larry Calcagno in August 1956. The two men visited mutual friend Jim LeGros in Ibiza and were joined by James Baldwin, Baldwin's friend Arnold, and Leslie Schenk. They later traveled to Majorca.

The estimated value of this work is $5,000 to $7,000.

To find out about the buying process, visit the following page on the gallery’s Web site: http://www.swanngalleries.com/auctions/buying/.

For more information about this auction, contact Imani Higginson at .

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Walker Art Center in Minneapolis Acquires a Beauford Delaney Painting


Thanks to Milo Bosh of BlackArtistNews.com, I learned of the recent acquisition of a Beauford Delaney painting by Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Walker associate curator Eric Crosby granted Les Amis the following interview about the painting.


Untitled
(circa 1970) Oil on canvas
Collection Walker Art Center
Gift of the Kunin Family, 2014
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Les Amis: How long has Walker Art Center been "in the market" for a Beauford Delaney painting?

Eric Crosby: This is the first work by Beauford Delaney to enter the permanent collection of the Walker Art Center, and it has come to us as a very generous gift of the Kunin Family. The piece, which is an untitled painting from circa 1970, fills a significant gap in the institution’s painting collection. Past curators at the Walker as well as those currently on staff have been familiar with Delaney’s work for a long time, and this has been a rare acquisition opportunity indeed!

Les Amis: What are the other abstract expressionist works in the collection with which Beauford's work dovetails?

Eric Crosby: As an excellent example of the artist’s abstract expressionist work, it dovetails beautifully with a number of key abstract expressionist paintings already in the collection. Among them are Barnett Newman’s The Third (1962), Mark Rothko’s No. 2 (1963), Robert Motherwell’s Untitled (Iberia)(1958), Clyfford Still’s untitled (1950-C) (1950), Joan Mitchell’s Painting 1953 (1953), and many others. This important Delaney canvas will certainly become a mainstay of our future collection installations, especially those that seek to contextualize mid-century abstraction.

Les Amis: What is the provenance of the painting prior to being added to the Regis collection?

Eric Crosby: Our current understanding of the painting’s ownership history is as follows:
  • Estate of the artist, Paris, France
  • Joseph Delaney, Knoxville, TN
  • The Delaney Estate, Knoxville, TN
  • Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, NYC
  • Myron Kunin Collection, Minneapolis
  • Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
Les Amis: Does Walker Art Center plan to acquire additional works by Beauford?

Eric Crosby: We are always looking to expand the Walker’s holdings of works by artists collected in depth. Since this is the first work by Beauford Delaney to enter the collection, we look forward to researching the painting and exploring opportunities to contextualize it further. This canvas represents just one facet of this influential painter’s decades of work.

Les Amis: Is the painting currently on display? If so, in which room?

Eric Crosby: Yes, the work is currently on view through August 2 in the 75 Gifts for 75 Years exhibition in the Target and Friedman Galleries.


Saturday, March 14, 2015

More on the Knoxville Museum of Art Acquisition of Beauford Delaney Paintings


As a follow-up to the Les Amis blog post entitled Knoxville Museum of Art Acquires Beauford Delaney Paintings, Stephen C. Wicks - Barbara W. and Bernard E. Bernstein Curator at the Knoxville Museum of Art in Beauford's hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee - shares comments about the museum's recent acquisition of several Beauford Delaney paintings and drawings. The number of works acquired has now grown to thirty-seven (37)!

Watercolors make up one of the largest portion of works in the Beauford Delaney estate. I went through the entire contents and selected a group of works on paper that I thought best captured the range of Beauford’s artistic experimentation over a broad span of his career. Of the works on paper we purchased, three are featured in Higher Ground1.

Untitled, circa 1945 is a city scene in which the artist has distilled his surroundings into a series of flat geometric shapes rendered in radiant colors. The halos around the street lights suggest it is evening, but the glowing scene appears devoid of any trace of shadow.

Untitled, circa 1945
Watercolor on paper
15 1/2 x 22 1/2 inches
Purchased with funds provided by the KMA’s Collectors Circle2, 2014
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Untitled (Clamart), 1959 is a fiery composition built of multiple layers of watercolor, gouache, and faint areas of chalk. It appears to radiate heat, as if you are descending into the heart of the sun. I think it’s one of the most exciting abstractions I’ve ever seen, and it possesses a depth and complexity that can only be appreciated by direct viewing. Interestingly, I came across an upside-down signature along the top margin with a notation “Clamart 1958”, which suggests that Delaney originally oriented the painting so that the dark orange portion was at the bottom. He later signed and dated it at the other end “Beauford Delaney 1959."

Untitled (Clamart), 1959
Watercolor and gouache on paper
24 1/2 x 18 inches
Purchased with funds provided by the KMA’s Collectors Circle2, 2014
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator


Untitled (Clamart), 1959 - detail of notation Clamart 1958
Watercolor and gouache on paper
24 1/2 x 18 inches
Purchased with funds provided by the KMA’s Collectors Circle2, 2014
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Untitled, 1960 features swirling watercolor marks rendered in a broad range of colors laid out in a square area on a rectangular piece of paper. I’m used to seeing the artist use every inch of his surface, and so this work struck me as interesting and unusual for the fact that he chose this compositional approach. We purchased this work from the estate thanks to funds provided by distinguished collectors Brenda and Larry Thompson.

Untitled, 1960
Watercolor on paper
26 x 19 3/4 inches
Purchased with funds provided by Brenda and Larry Thompson, 2014
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

1The Knoxville Museum of Art’s exhibition Higher Ground: A Century of the Visual Arts in East Tennessee is a permanent installation that traces the development of fine art and craft in the region and the surrounding area over the past century. It tells the largely unknown story of the area’s rich artistic history and its connections to the larger currents of American art. Featured works are drawn from the KMA collection along with selected works on loan from several regional museums and private collections.

2KMA Collectors Circle is a special membership group that supports the museum’s efforts to acquire works of art.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Beauford and Baldwin in Istanbul

In the summer of 1966, Beauford spent several weeks with James Baldwin in Istanbul. Photographer and filmmaker Sedat Pakay met Beauford at that time and more recently wrote a beautiful tribute to him for the Les Amis blog.

When I informed Pakay that I would visit Istanbul and wished to see the place where Beauford and Baldwin lived, he referred me to Professor Kim Fortuny of Bosphorus University. Professor Fortuny wrote extensively about Baldwin's time in Istanbul in her book, American Writers in Istanbul. She connected me with Professor Ed Pavlic of the University of Georgia, who is a James Baldwin scholar, and we conferred on the exact addresses of Baldwin's residences in 1966. Both are in the Rumeli Hisari quarter, which takes its name from a 15th-century fortress in the area.

When my husband and I made the trip, Professor Fortuny was gracious enough to take us on a walking tour of the area and show us two places where Baldwin lived: a multi-story house on the Bosphorus shore road and a beautiful home - formerly Vefik Pasha's library - perched atop a steep hill.

Ahmed Vefik Pasha was a 19th-century Ottoman statesman and scholar. The building that housed his library is a few hundred yards down a small road from the massive and impressive fortress.

Rumeli Hisari
© Discover Paris!

The Pasha's library is now a private residence that is protected in part by a stone wall. The only glimpse of the grounds that is visible from the entrance is from the vantage point of a small opening in the metal gate.

The Pasha's library (side view)
© Discover Paris!

Grounds of the Pasha's library (viewed from opening in gate)
© Discover Paris!

The multi-story house on the shore road is where Beauford stayed with Baldwin. Biographer David A. Leeming describes it as "the little house on the Bosphorus," where Beauford "loved living with Jimmy, Richard [a friend of Baldwin] and me." Professor Pavlic shared a quote from a letter by Baldwin from this address dated July 26, 1966 that says "Beauford is here, very brown and working well."

House on the Bosphorus road near the strait
© Discover Paris!

Though the Bosphorus shore road beneath the Rumeli Hisari fortress is lined with cafés and quite busy, the neighborhood adjacent to the fortress and the Pasha's library is peaceful and idyllic to this day.

Rumeli Hisari viewed from the Bosphorus shore road
© Discover Paris!

Across the street from the entrance gate for the Pasha's library
© Discover Paris!

Homes near the Pasha's library
© Discover Paris!

The Rumeli Hisari fortress is located several miles north of the old city of Istanbul, which is where most of the major mosques and other attractions are located.

Hagia Sophia museum
© Discover Paris!

Blue Mosque
© Discover Paris!

Ablution fountain - Sultanahmet Hippodrome
© Discover Paris!

Many thanks to Professors Ed Pavlic and Kim Fortuny for sharing their knowledge and to Professor Fortuny for showing us the Rumeli Hisari quarter.