Les Amis de Beauford Delaney is supporting the completion of


the first full-length documentary about Beauford.

Join us in making this video tribute to Beauford a reality!



Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Beauford and the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery

The Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, located at 24 West 57 Street, opened its doors in Manhattan in 1989. It acquired its first Beauford Delaney painting – an untitled portrait – soon afterward, and has been a champion of Beauford’s work ever since. To date, the gallery has mounted twenty-five expositions that have included paintings by Beauford, including two solo expositions of selected abstract works.

Michael Rosenfeld’s wife and partner, halley k harrisburg, is the director of the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery. She kindly consented to grant me an interview to provide insight into why the gallery is such a fervent supporter of Beauford’s œuvre.

The story begins with the adolescent Michael Rosenfeld, a precocious youth with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge of art history and artists. He would spend hours roaming the city to look at and buy art objects, and developed relationships with vendors and galleries around town – including many on Madison Avenue. He poured over old ads and archives of artistic works in libraries and museums, noted the names of artists whose work interested him, and sought these artists out. When they consented to meet with him, they were invariably surprised to find that a teenager presented himself for the rendezvous. Michael would put himself through college by buying and selling art.

Many of the paintings that Michael Rosenfeld acquired during his youth were created by African-American artists. He often did not know this at the time that he obtained the works – it was only later that he became aware of the “African-American artist” and the struggles that faced such artists in the American art world, and began to recognize the names of particular artists in this light.

Beauford Delaney (1901-1979)
Ahmed Bioud, 1964
oil on canvas
39 1/4" x 32", signed
© Estate of Beauford Delaney; Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York , NY

Michael and halley visited the Paul Facchetti Gallery in Paris during the mid-1990s. Facchetti was a major supporter of Beauford during his Paris years and held several of his works, and Michael and halley purchased several of Beauford’s paintings from Facchetti during that trip. These became the nexus of the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery Delaney collection. Michael and halley also established relationships with Darthea Speyer and others in Paris who supported Beauford and his art. Since that time, they have actively sought to acquire authentic Delaney paintings (halley indicated that there are numerous counterfeit works on the market today), with the intent to sell them to museums as well as to private collectors. They are also eager to make Beauford’s work available to museums for exhibitions.

Beauford Delaney (1901-1979)
Exchange Place, 1943
oil on panel
33 1/4" x 45 1/2", signed
© Estate of Beauford Delaney; Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York , NY

In 1995, the gallery held its first solo exposition of Beauford’s paintings. It was entitled Beauford Delaney: 1960s Paris Abstractions, and it ran from September 14 - November 11. At the time, the scant press that Beauford’s work had received concerned his figurative paintings, such as those shown at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 1978. In this context, to mount a solo exposition exclusively composed of abstract works could be considered audacious. halley indicated that this exposition was very poorly attended, and stated her conviction that this was because the public could not comprehend the significance of abstract art produced by an “African-American artist.”

Beauford Delaney (1901-1979)
Untitled, 1960
oil on canvas
51" x 38", signed
© Estate of Beauford Delaney; Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York , NY

halley stated that the gallery feels privileged to have handled so many of Beauford’s paintings. When asked what makes his work desirable for the gallery, her passion for it burst forth as she spoke of Beauford’s electric palette, and the raw emotion, sheer integrity, and consistency of intent of his œuvre. She stated that Beauford’s approach to portraits, landscapes, his representations of Washington Square, and his abstractions are quintessentially his own; and that each work of art that he produced was an external representation of all the opportunities, hardships, and relationships that he had experienced in life up to the moment that he set his brush to canvas. She and Michael believe that Beauford is one of the most important of all 20th-century American painters.

Beauford Delaney in his Vercingetonix Studio, c.1967
© Estate of Beauford Delaney; Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York , NY

The Michael Rosenfeld Gallery is a supporter of the mission of Les Amis de Beauford Delaney to place a permanent marker at Beauford’s grave at Thiais Cemetery. Please join them in supporting our effort! Send your donation check, made payable to Les Amis de Beauford Delaney, to us at one of the following addresses:

US Dollar donations:

Monique Y. Wells
Les Amis de Beauford Delaney
11503 Sandhurst
Houston, TX 77048

Euro donations:

Monique Y. Wells
Les Amis de Beauford Delaney
52, rue Lhomond
75005 Paris

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