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!


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Les Amis Looks Back

As July 2013 comes to a close, I am awed when I look back over the past four years! It was in July 2009 that I wrote to Richard Gibson to inquire about the location of Beauford's grave. This triggered the chain of events that led to the establishment of Les Amis de Beauford Delaney.

Today I am posting several photos that bear witness to the path that we have opened to honor Beauford's life and work and to make them better known to the world. Click on the links in the captions to access the story behind each image.

Thiais Cemetery Division 86 - location of Beauford's final resting place
© Discover Paris!

Announcement for the creation of Les Amis de Beauford Delaney
© Discover Paris!

Ambassador Rivkin writes a letter of support for fundraising
© Discover Paris!

Dorothy's Gallery sells Henry Miller painting in support of fundraising effort
© Discover Paris!

Gravesite ceremony
© Discover Paris!

Program for celebration at the Hôtel Tallyrand
© Discover Paris!

Invitees enjoying the cocktail
© Discover Paris!

Burt and Pat Reinfrank talk of their memories of Beauford for filmmaker Zachary Miller
© Discover Paris!

1st anniversary celebration of the laying of the stone
© Discover Paris!

Tending Beauford's Gravesite
© Discover Paris!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

re-Searching Beauford: A Penultimate Reflection for a Generation Now

This post is contributed by E. L. Kornegay, Jr., Ph. D., author of the many "re-Searching Beauford" articles as well as other posts on this blog. I consider him to be the first Beauford Delaney scholar!


E. L. Kornegay, Jr., Ph. D.
Photo courtesy of Dr. Kornegay

I have been reflecting on Beauford for quite a while now. My first reflection was published on this site in 2011. Since then I have written a handful of short essays about my journey as I’ve searched for an understanding of Beauford. I have met a handful of people along the way, seen a handful of Beauford’s paintings, read a handful of other reflections on the work, person, and life of Beauford Delaney. A handful here, a handful there, a gathering of souls putting handfuls together offering portions of a picture of the man, the painter, the soul of Beauford Delaney – all desiring to be made whole.

I wonder, in this moment, if desire is enough to express the spaces in between the handfuls? Yes, desire is the source of both the problem and the solution to understanding Beauford as a whole. There is a desire to understand who Beauford was and the call to understand Beauford as he is. Who Beauford was is a memory held by friends, family, and admirers reminded of a history framed by maddening genius, spiritual giftedness, and human frailty. This is who Beauford was. It is something – this history – that is indisputable for it is real to those who knew Beauford. But what does this mean for those who want to know Beauford now?

Beauford Delaney
Rue Guilleminot
France 1973
© Errol Sawyer*

I am not playing a game of semantics here. We know who Beauford was, but are we really willing to know who he is for us now? How do we “shake loose” the loving memory of Beauford so that we can find a new story – the story of his humanity, his blackness, his masculinity and what remains of him as an artist? How do the handfuls come together to reveal new depth, clarity and truth to who Beauford is to us now?

I have a “critical orientation” to the challenges these two perspectives pose. I believe that what gets said about Beauford Delaney today must be said about who he is to us now. I believe that his story can liberate those who have no one to peer into their souls and guide them into a truth they never dared to imagine for themselves. This is an embodiment of who Beauford is and should be to a new generation of youth that is “young, gifted, and black.”

There is a tangible meaning to Beauford’s life and art that intersects with the community and culture of his birth. That which extends beyond who he was and how his life is remembered must somehow circle back to the everyday folk he painted from memory. His art was his “amazing grace,” but his choice to become an artist against all odds is an amazing feat we can all learn from!

Beauford's Paint Box
© Discover Paris!

In a world where little black boys and girls get lost in a world where their gifts are often snuffed out early on, Beauford offers us a lasting memory and an ever present tangible hope for a way forward beyond the violence, injustice, and madness that unique ability encounters because of race, gender, sexuality and religion. Just like a young James Baldwin, this generation can benefit from a “rite of passage” consisting of Beauford’s past and present, and not a moment too soon. For youth facing the dangers of dreams deferred and the real possibility of losing their lives, the handfuls of Beauford need to come together and work toward an outcome befitting his legacy.

I am going to write more about Beauford, maybe even a book. I will have to see what comes next, but I know our youth need Beauford and we need Beauford – every last handful of him – now.

*To read about Errol Sawyer's portrait of Beauford, click here.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Beauford: His Art and His Light

Today, as I reflect on the tremendous reception that Beauford's work has received at the recent Beauford Delaney: Internal Light exposition in New York, I think of the inextricable way that his life and art were intertwined. Indeed, I believe that most people who knew him could not separate him from his art and the light that he not only saw in his surroundings, but also emanated himself and brought to his art. Here are a few brief quotes that bear witness to this.

Invitation card to 1973 exposition at Galerie Darthea Speyer
Image courtesy of Galerie Darthea Speyer

Beauford, you are the complete artist, not just in the medium of paint but in the medium of life.
- James Jones

I learned about light from Beauford Delaney, the light contained in every thing, in every surface, in every face.
- James Baldwin

Beauford was an artist from before birth; he was an artist in the womb, and even before that.
- Henry Miller

First and last Beauford is an artist - one of the most sensitive and talented of all artists of all times.
- Joseph Delaney

...this is indeed, the hallmark of Beauford's art, a joyful pursuit of the exact.
- Richard A. Long

For many years, the sparkle of his gaze shone around him and attracted a crowd of friends, fascinated by this strong, if silent, presence. It was not his discourse that captivated, but a light that emanated from him and permeated everyone. (Translated from French)
Darthea Speyer

To see a short video of the Beauford Delaney: Internal Light exposition opening, click here.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Beauford to Be Added to Thiais Cemetery Celebrity List

A miracle has occurred!

After waiting for two years to pay the concession fee for Beauford's grave, I received notification that his grave site will henceforth be conserved by the City of Paris and that within the next few weeks, Beauford's name will be added to the list of famous persons buried at Thiais cemetery!

The story goes as follows:

When I founded the French non-profit association Les Amis de Beauford Delaney in 2009, the principal goals were to pay the fee that would keep Beauford's remains interred and to place a stone at his unmarked grave. At the time, I was told that an exception would be made so that Les Amis could pay the concession fee because only Beauford's family or a legal representative of his estate was legally allowed to do so. Les Amis paid all previously owed sums and brought accounts up to date through 2010.

Beauford's grave site in 2009
© Discover Paris!

Beauford's tombstone in 2010
© Discover Paris!

In 2011, I wrote to the cemetery to indicate that Les Amis was ready to submit the funds to cover the next ten years of the concession. I was told once again that Les Amis had no right to submit this payment and that a two-year grace period would go into effect to allow a family member or legal representative to come forth and pay (or move Beauford's remains elsewhere). I had to wait until 2013 to contact them again.

I wrote to the cemetery in March of this year, reiterating that Les Amis was ready to pay the sum due. I received a reply stating that though an exception was made in 2010, Les Amis would not be allowed to pay the concession this year. However, my contact at the cemetery, Deputy Director Marilyn Pin, took it upon herself to contact the main cemetery office at Père Lachaise in Paris and request that Beauford's name be added to the list of "celebrities" interred at Thiais. If this request were granted, the City of Paris would take responsibility for preserving his grave site and no future funds would need to be submitted.

On June 7th, I received a call from Madame Pin stating that her request had been granted and that a letter would be forthcoming. On July 4th, I received her letter confirming that Beauford's grave will now be conserved by the City of Paris. This means that Beauford's family and estate no longer need to worry about paying a fee to keep his remains buried.

From an historical standpoint, the fact that Beauford's name will be added to the list of famous persons buried at the Parisian Cemetery of Thiais is yet another milestone in the preservation of the legacy of the African-American presence in Paris.