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Saturday, June 13, 2015

Self-portrait (1962) at the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum

The Detroit Institute of Arts Museum (DIA) owns a single Beauford Delaney painting - a magnificent self-portrait dated 1962.

Self-portrait (1962)
Oil on canvas
23" x 19"
Detroit Institute of Arts Museum
Image courtesy of Michele L. Simms-Burton
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

I contacted DIA to inquire about the painting and spoke with Iva Lisikewycz, Manager of Curatorial Affairs. She told me that the portrait was acquired by the museum from the Darthea Speyer Gallery in 1992 (Accession number - 1992.214) with funds from the DIA Founders Society. Darthea Speyer selected this self-portrait as the image for the invitation card that she created to announce the one-man show of Beauford's work that she mounted in 1992.

Invitation card for 1992 exhibit at Galerie Darthea Speyer
Image courtesy of Galerie Darthea Speyer
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

The following is the description that the museum has on file for the painting:

Self-portrait of an African-American male in three-quarter view. Ochre sweater and turtleneck on bright yellow background.

Regarding the exhibition history of this portrait, the only record that DIA has pertains to the exposition entitled Beauford Delaney: The Color Yellow, organized by the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, GA and shown from February 2002 - May 2003. DIA lists the venues and dates for the exposition as follows:

  • High Museum (February 9 - May 5, 2002)
  • Studio Museum in Harlem (July 10 - September 15, 2002)
  • Anacostia Museum and Center for African-American History and Culture of Smithsonian Institution (October 11, 2002 - January 4, 2003)
  • Fogg Museum of Harvard University (February 15 - May 4, 2003)

In 2013, Christie's appraised numerous works held by DIA; Beauford's self-portrait was among them. Christie's valued it at between $25K and $35K.

Christie's appraisal of Beauford's Self-portrait at DIA

The portrait is part of the African-American collection embedded within the Contemporary and Modern Art collection at DIA. It currently hangs in Gallery N 286.

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