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!



Friday, June 25, 2010

Beauford at the Art Institute of Chicago

Last week, I had the pleasure of presenting “Beauford Delaney: From Paris to Beyond” at the G. R. N’Namdi Gallery. The talk was extremely well received, and I was proud to announce to the audience that Les Amis de Beauford Delaney has reached its fundraising goal.

I was also pleased to announce that, earlier in the day, I had had the opportunity to visit the Art Institute of Chicago to see the Beauford Delaney works that this museum owns. The trip was most educational and enjoyable!  The museum holds three paintings, two of which are not on public display.

I have already presented the 1944 self-portrait that hangs in Gallery 262 at the Art Institute of Chicago in previous blog postings (You've Got the Eye; Cid Corman's Poetic Tribute to Beauford). But a friend recently visited the gallery and took some extraordinary photos of the painting, and I would like to share them with you here. Note the very heavy streaks of paint that Beauford used to create this image of himself.


Photos of Beauford's 1944 Self-portrait
Photos courtesy of Tim Paulson

As vivid and compelling as these photos are, the painting itself is even more striking!

A second work (see image below) is in storage. I made an appointment with the American Art department to see it. Associate Curator Sarah Kelly took me into the basement of the museum and located the room in which the painting is stored. We looked at it for several minutes together. There is no signature or date on the front of the painting, but the date “1965” was indicated in pencil on the rear of the painting. Other information about the date and acquisition was presented on two labels affixed to the rear of the work. The work itself is a conglomerate of curves, swipes, and splotches of paint in varying shades of green, yellow, and melon. I thought that I saw two cowboys amidst the colorful swirls!

Untitled by Beauford Delaney
(1965) Oil on canvas
Image courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago

Sarah accompanied me to the Prints and Drawings Department, where I saw the third Delaney that is owned by the museum. Though it is a painting, the museum has classified it as a drawing because it is painted with a transparent medium (watercolor) and is on paper. The Prints and Drawings department is equipped to store and display such works, which require special preservation. Works held by this department are displayed for three months, and then placed back into storage to preserve them.

Photo of “Untitled” (1961) by Beauford Delaney
© Discover Paris!

Curator Mark Pascale talked with me at length about this painting, which is untitled. He said that the colors of the painting were greatly faded, and showed me how to recognize the fading of the “cream wove”paper that Beauford used for this work as well. Mark described watercolor as a “fugitive medium,” and said that it has “inherent vice.” I found this description (which indicates the fragile nature of watercolor) amusing, and Mark said that the first time he heard it, it amused him as well.

As well as watercolor, Beauford also used gouache for this painting. Gouache is a mixture of opaque white paint with watercolor. This mixture can be made transparent by adding water.

Beauford painted this work for his friends Miriam and Palmer Hayden. His inscription—Pour Mariam & Palmer with love Beauford—and the date—“ ’61”—are barely visible. The painting was acquired from the Haydens by artist and art historian Semella Lewis, who in turn presented it to an art dealer, who sold it to the museum.

I highly recommend a visit to the Art Institute of Chicago to see Beauford’s works. You may phone the Prints and Drawings Department for an appointment to see the watercolor and gouache painting. The American Art Department may also grant a request to see the oil painting that is in storage, but only if you visit alone.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Fundraising Success!

I am very pleased to announce that Les Amis de Beauford Delaney has successfully achieved its fundraising goal!  Many thanks all of our donors, whose names you will find listed in the right margin.  Special thanks go to the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery for having submitted the contribution that allowed us to reach $8500! 

Things are moving along swiftly now.  Beauford's tombstone has been ordered, and the target date for the preparation of the gravesite and the installation of the stone is July 15, 2010.  We are beginning to make plans for the commemorative ceremony that will be held at the gravesite at Thiais Cemetery in August or September 2010, the 57th anniversary of Beauford's setting sail for Paris.  We plan to hold a reception in Paris afterward.  The exact date has yet to be determined. Details will follow as the organization of this historic event progresses.

Photo to be used for Beauford's tombstone
c. 1960, possibly taken by Gjon Mili
Courtesy of Richard Gibson

If you have plans to be in Paris during this time and would like to attend the ceremony at which we will honor Beauford's life and art, please send a message to amisdebeauford(at)yahoo(dot)com.

Also, if you still wish to contribute, please feel free to do so by clicking on the "Donate" button in the right margin beneath the color photo of Beauford's final resting place, or by contacting Les Amis at amisdebeauford(at)yahoo(dot)com to receive an address to which you may send a check.  Funds will be used to defray the cost of the commemorative ceremony.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Beauford at the George R. N’Namdi Gallery in Chicago

I am pleased to announce that I will present “Beauford Delaney: From Paris to Beyond” at the George R. N’Namdi Gallery, 110 North Peoria in Chicago on June 17, 2010 at 5:30 PM. I encourage everyone in the Chicago area to attend – it would be my pleasure to meet you and to share with you my perspective on Beauford’s life and art!

In honor of the occasion, the G. R. N’Namdi Gallery granted me an interview, which you can find below.

Interior of George R. N'Namdi Gallery, Chicago
Courtesy of George R. N'Namdi Gallery

Les Amis: Please describe the gallery and its mission.

G. R. N’Namdi Gallery: George N'Namdi, who holds a doctorate in psychology, correlated positive mental health with art appreciation and living with art through his research and practice as a clinical psychologist. This was a significant factor in the foundation of the G.R. N'Namdi Gallery in 1981, whose mission is to encourage collectors to develop an appreciation for the historical value of the arts, while increasing awareness of abstract art and inspiring a new generation of art collectors. The father-son-operated gallery exhibits at its locations in Chicago, Detroit and New York, and through partnerships and collaborations with universities, museums and organizations internationally.

Les Amis: How do you select the artists that you represent?

G. R. N’Namdi Gallery: We select the artists that we feel are making a contribution to the arts. In other words, artists who have a unique voice that adds to the "literature" of arts.

Les Amis: What inspired you select Beauford Delaney as one of the artists whose work you represent?

G. R. N’Namdi Gallery: Because of his contributions, pushing of the envelope, he's an originator. His works have elements of originality.

Beauford Delaney
(1965) Oil on canvas
Courtesy of George N'Namdi Gallery

Les Amis: Where/how did you acquire your Delaneys?  Private acquisitions? Auction?

G. R. N’Namdi Gallery: We've acquired Delaneys in different ways, mostly by purchases from his estate and private collectors.

Les Amis: Is his work popular among your clients?

G. R. N’Namdi Gallery: He is known, particularly among serious collectors. He work is still growing in awareness.

Les Amis: You recently held an event whose purpose was to educate people on how to purchase art. How would you advise someone who wanted to become a collector of Delaneys?

G. R. N’Namdi Gallery: First, research him. Then, find one that you like, that is always the first step. Also, you find one that fits into your vision as a collector.

Les Amis: Please talk about the film that you are creating on African-American artists around the world. How will Beauford figure into this film?

G. R. N’Namdi Gallery: Yes, Beauford is featured in the documentary film, Art Legacy Abroad: In Search of the Light, http://www.artlegacyabroad.com/. While in Paris, we filmed one of his former homes, and he was mentioned by several of the artists in their interviews during the film.

Note:  There are still five days left to bid on the Gentry serigraphClick here to place your bid now!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

ArtNet Auction of Herb Gentry Serigraph is Live!

A couple of weeks ago, I reported in a blog posting that Mary Anne Rose donated a Herb Gentry serigraph to benefit the Beauford Delaney Gravesite Project.  I am thrilled to inform you that ArtNet has placed the work up for auction as of 4:30 PM Eastern Time on June 8.  Bidding is now open!

Always Green
Herbert Gentry
Serigraph (2000)

Mary Anne Rose provides the following description of the print:
Always Green was done at the period the artist was working on his final three editions published by GR N’Namdi Gallery in conjunction with his book Herbert Gentry: The Man The Magic The Master. Always Green is among the artist’s final works. This serigraph was printed in 2000 at Lime Grafik in Malmo, Sweden.
Always Green is about regeneration. In the work of Herbert Gentry, the Green man refers to different aspects of fertility, as well as spiritual growth and transformation. Gentry saw his art as direct contact with the unconscious, and as an artist, he neither consciously determined a work's subjective import nor final appearance. Thus, his works trace states of being and change. The Green Man theme relates to larger paintings like Spiritually Green (1978) and He Seeth All (1962) and On All Sides (1990). Gentry realized his figurative imagery through process and each work evolved out of spontaneous and direct gesture.
Always Green will be available for bidding until Thursday, June 17th at 4:30 PM Eastern Time.  The opening bid is $1500.  Please click here to visit the ArtNet site and place your bid.

Once again, many thanks to Mary Anne Rose and the Estate of Herbert Gentry for this fine donation!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Richard Hadlock Remembers Beauford

Richard Hadlock is the host of San Mateo's KCSM FM radio show Annals of Jazz.  He has been broadcasting jazz for more than 50 years, and is the author of Jazz Masters of the Twenties (Da Capo, 1988 [first published in 1965]).  In addition, he is a professional jazz saxophonist who has appeared on dozens of albums.  Hadlock studied with Sidney Bechet, Garvin Bushell, Lee Konitz, and, in Rio de Janeiro, the popular bandleader/saxophonist Zaccarias.  He remembers Beauford in the text below:

Beauford Delaney was our landlord. In 1951, Tony Hagert and I moved into a vacant second-floor loft above a Greenwich Village trucking firm. Beauford, who lived on the third floor of the old Greene Street warehouse, had been paying, I believe, 30 dollars a month for both floors. Each loft offered a toilet and a cold-water tap, nothing more. Ours had not been occupied for more than a decade and it required days of cutting through the soot, grime and crud. Tony and I paid 30 dollars to Beauford and he could now live rent-free.

Greene Street (as it appears in Amazing Grace)
Beauford Delaney
Oil on Canvas (1946)
© Discover Paris!

Most of what Beauford owned was given to him. He was especially fond of his record player and his collection of 78 rpm records by artists such as Bessie Smith, Sidney Bechet and Duke Ellington. Often his yells of ecstasy over jazz came drifting down to us on the second floor. Visiting upstairs was not unlike entering a temple. Beauford usually sat, Buddha-like, on his large bed under an elaborate canopy of white sheets, surrounded by colorful paintings. He seemed, to me, to love everyone and every thing.

When our building was scheduled for demolition by its new owner, New York University, we had to move. Tony had just been called up for military duty. Beauford and I walked the streets of the lower Village and as far East as Second Avenue, hoping for another cheap loft to fit both our ways of life. At that time --1952?-- Beauford told me he didn't want to follow, sheep-like, the many artists who had moved to Paris. He loved New York and often found inspiration in humble scenes such as Greene Street homeless men trying to warm themselves with fires set in trash cans.

Somehow we ended up going on separate paths. I rented a rickety flat on Second Avenue. Beauford, who, child-like, could not survive without the generous support of friends and admirers, finally gave in to the call of Paris.