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!



Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Les Amis de Beauford Delaney's First Anniversary!

One year ago today, the Journal Officiel published an announcement declaring Les Amis de Beauford Delaney a bona-fide non-profit association in France. It seems like only a few weeks ago!

As president of the association, I am proud to say that we have accomplished every element of the mission that we presented to the government as part of our application for official status:

1. Placement and maintenance of a tombstone for the grave of painter Beauford Delaney, who is buried at the Parisian Cemetery of Thiais.

2. Payment of the renewal fees for his grave.

3. Organization of commemorative or educational events in his honor.

4. Inform the press and the media of his life and accomplishments.

Journal Officiel Announcement
24 November 2009

The placement of the tombstone was our overriding goal. I hope that you have all seen the postings about the gravesite ceremony and the reception held at the Marshall Center last month. We now have the funds to pay for the maintenance of the tombstone for a year, as well as to renew Beauford’s concession at Thiais Cemetery. However, we must wait, until January 2011 to establish the maintenance contract with the funeral parlor and to conclude the transaction with the cemetery.

Beauford's new tombstone
(c) Discover Paris!

Regarding organizing commemorative or education events in Beauford’s honor, we did extremely well! I have spoken about Beauford three times this year, including a successful presentation at the George R. N’Namdi Gallery in Chicago. Most importantly, we exceeded expectations with the commemorative ceremony and reception held in October!

We have made significant progress in informing the press and the media of Beauford’s life and accomplishments as well. Two newspaper articles (that I know of) were published about our project earlier this year. Prissy Mag, an online magazine, ran a terrific article about the reception that we held at the Marshall Center, and editor Priscilla Lalisse-Jespersen also talked extensively about Beauford, his work, and the Gravesite Project on a radio interview with Paris Expat last month. I revised Wikipedia’s English language page on Beauford with a section called “The Beauford Delaney Burial Site.”

Musician and artist Joe Langley has posted his video of the reception on YouTube. Filmmaker Zachary James Miller is planning to create a short film on Beauford’s life and work for the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, and has already begun work by filming the gravesite ceremony and the reception. And two additional filmmakers have expressed interest in making feature films about Beauford’s life.

The biggest question for Les Amis at present is “Where do we go from here?” Several things are under consideration:

• An annual Beauford Delaney commemoration, to be held in Paris

• Placement of a plaque in Beauford’s honor on a building in Paris

• An exposition of Beauford’s paintings in Paris

• A scholarship to support an art student in Beauford’s name.

Of course, time and money will be required to successfully pursue any one of these projects. I am mulling over the possibilities for fundraising, and even more importantly, for finding people who are willing to help with implementation.

Finally, I am seriously considering retiring this blog! I have done my best to find information on Beauford from as many reliable sources as possible, and to present that information with clarity, integrity, and love. But I am running out of sources, and will not diminish the quality of this Web publication just for the sake of continuing on. My goal is to publish through the end of this year, targeting Beauford’s birthday (December 30) as the date of the final posting.

If any of you have information pertaining to Beauford that you believe is worthy of publication, or if you know of anyone who has such information, please contact me at amisdebeauford[at]yahoo[dot]com. As long as there is something worth publishing, I am willing to write about it!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Beauford and the Influence of Claude Monet

Everyone in Paris who has an interest in art is talking about Claude Monet these days. The huge retrospective of this revered Impressionist painter at the Grand Palais is sold out through the end of the exposition on January 24, 2011! Not to mention the fact that the 170th anniversary of his birth (November 14, 1840) was just a few days ago, and the 84th anniversary of his death (December 5, 1926) is rapidly approaching.  Amidst the buzz, I thought it appropriate to look at how Monet’s work influenced Beauford.

Beauford first saw Monet’s work in Boston, shortly after Monet died. The exposition was held in the studio of American artist John Singer Sargent, whose work also influenced Beauford. In the biography Amazing Grace, author David Leeming indicates that Beauford “found a serious attempt to understand the effects of different stages of daylight on color and form” in Monet’s paintings. Citing Monet’s Water Lily (French translation: Nymphéas) series, Leeming also states that Monet’s view of light as subject matter during his later years is suggestive of the abstract expressionism that Beauford would adopt years later.

In the catalog for the 2004-2005 Minneapolis Institute of Arts exposition Beauford Delaney: From New York to Paris, curator Sue Canterbury notes that Beauford arrived in Paris the same year that the Orangerie, home to Monet’s famous murals, was reopened (1953). She says that French gallery owner Paul Facchetti attested to the fascination that Americans had for Monet, and that they “all rushed like flies to one place: the Orangerie” to see the famous murals. Notes for her essay on Beauford’s “transatlantic transformation” indicate that Beauford mentioned Monet to his biographer Leeming on several occasions, and that friends of Beauford (including Ed Clark) believe that Monet’s work influenced Beauford’s early experiments with abstraction in Paris.

Nymphéas (detail)
(1920-1926) Oil on canvas
Claude Monet
Musée de l’Orangerie

In the same catalog, Michael D. Plante states that Beauford may have seen Monet’s paintings at the Orangerie in September, the month that he arrived in Paris. He describes in detail how Monet’s influence can be seen in Beauford’s paintings as early as 1954.

Richard A. Long arranged two visits with Beauford to see Monet’s works during the early 1970s – first to the Orangerie, and then to the Marmottan (not yet called Musée Marmottan Monet) shortly after the opening of the Monet galleries there.

(1916) Oil on canvas
Claude Monet
Musée Marmottan Monet

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts Web site has an interesting education section for young students called Object in Focus. One of the “objects” is Beauford’s raincoat painting Untitled (1954), which students are encouraged to compare and contrast to Monet’s The Japanese Bridge (c. 1923-1925). Both paintings are part of the museum’s permanent collection.

Untitled (raincoat painting)
Beauford Delaney
(1954) Oil on raincoat fragment
Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Photo courtesy of Sue Canterbury

The Japanese Bridge
(ca. 1923-1925) Claude Monet
Minneapolis Institute of Arts

The Michael Rosenfeld Gallery showed three of Beauford’s paintings in a 2009 exposition called Abstract Expressionism: Further Evidence. The catalog for this show describes Beauford’s Paris abstractions as “lyrical, colorful, [and] non-objective” and “pure and simplified expressions of light.” It goes on to say that “the paintings have clear ties to Monet’s studies of light…”

I believe that Beauford would have been first in line to see the current Monet exposition at the Grand Palais – if he could have gotten a ticket! I plan to go to the Orangerie to see Monet’s murals in honor of the occasion.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

It's Not What You Think!

David Leeming indicates in his biography Amazing Grace that Beauford was rarely painted nudes because of his shyness.  This makes the remembrance below, provided by Burt Reinfrank, even more interesting!


It was a beautiful, sunny autumn afternoon when I knocked on Beauford’s studio door. I heard the echo of Beauford’s voice back in the studio saying “I’m coming.” I could hear him shuffling to the door. It opened and Beauford, with hand outstretched, said “Come in.” I did and, as I looked down the narrow corridor, with white sheets hanging on both sides, into the studio, I saw a naked young man standing facing me full frontal reaching for his pants saying “It's not what you think, it's not what you think!” I hadn’t thought anything at that point, and Beauford was unperturbed.

As it happened, the young man (American) had recently been a guest of Jimmy Baldwin at his house in St. Paul de Vence, as had Beauford at the same time. While there, Beauford had started but not finished a nude portrait of him, which was now on an easel where Beauford was continuing to work on it.

Beauford's Paint Box
© Discover Paris!

My entrance had interrupted this sitting so we all sat down to a tea Beauford made for us. The young man (about 30) was from the western U.S. and lived on a property where the boundaries of three states came together. He regaled us with stories of that region.

That was the only time I saw this young man (circa 1965). But recently, in 2010, I saw a photograph of a group of Delaney paintings in a store room, one of which was a portrait of a nude man. I wonder if it is the finished version of “It’s not what you think”?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Redhead in His Bed

Burt Reinfrank kindly sent the following anecdote about Beauford in his later years, when he was living at the studio on rue Vercingétorix. He indicated that this is a story that is told by others as well as himself.


Beauford at his rue Vercingétorix studio, 1972

It was a fall Saturday morning. Signs of a colder winter to come were in the air. Beauford’s health and his mental state had been slowly failing. The question was how much longer could he continue to live on his own? I had signed him up for a local version of Meals on Wheels, which worked for a while. But he had started to drink again. Some of his friends said squatters were trying to move into his studio.

I approached his door with a certain apprehension. At my knock I heard Beauford’s shuffle. The door opened and Beauford led me into his studio. On the small table by the arm chair were a couple of partly filled glasses of red wine and an almost empty wine bottle. The bed, with its traditional top cover of a white sheet, was made up but as I looked harder it seemed there was something in it and at the head, sticking out from the top of the sheet, a mass of long red hair. I thought “Good God. Beauford has a redheaded women in his bed.”

Beauford said nothing, and as I surveyed the scene the head from which the hair came slowly worked its way out of the bed. It was not a woman but a younger man along in his 30s who introduced himself as "Michael" and immediately went into the kitchen and made us all a coffee. Apparently he’d moved in with Beauford a short time before. He prepared Beauford’s food and they were obviously drinking a lot of red wine.

This was certainly one of the “squatters” I had heard mentioned in a negative way, but I thought this was what Beauford needed considering the condition he was in. Apart from the wine, the “squatter” got the food, prepared it, kept Beauford company, etc.

For some time, each time I visited I would give Beauford some cash which was a part of a payment for a painting I had bought from him. I now started giving the cash directly to Michael to pay for the food etc. he bought for the two of them. I trusted him and it worked well as long as it lasted.

Some said squatters might be stealing Beauford’s work. I asked Michael what he saw and he said no one had been by the studio except a young woman who came in, picked up a painting and left. She and Beauford seemed to know each other as they kissed both on her coming and going. I couldn’t think of anyone that Beauford knew who was young enough to meet that young lady’s description. To me, who she was still remains a mystery.

After Michael’s departure some weeks later Beauford’s health continued to decline.