Adeline wrote to me after having discovered the Les Amis blog. She wanted to share a photo of Beauford that was taken before his death at Sainte-Anne's Hospital in Paris. She also shared the story of how she came to know Beauford and Beauford's brother, Joseph, and graciously granted her permission for me to publish them here.
Image courtesy of Adeline Goldminc-Tronzo
The year was 1968. As a kid - and I mean a kid (I was 15 years old) - I would escape my family and go to Montparnasse to hang out with artists.
One of these artists was Anton Prinner (a Hungarian artist) and sometimes Beauford would come to the Coupole and hang out at Prinner's table. And I had the privilege to be there a few times. Beauford did not speak French and I was a kid and hardly spoke English.
He was a quiet man - a soulful, dreamy presence.
And the striking memory I have is of Beauford's most beautiful hands. They really were beautiful!
Years later, as a very young adult, I moved to NY. While there, I befriended Jo (Joseph) Delaney. A beautiful soul as well.
Jo mentioned a brother once or twice but never by name and where he lived ...
Then one day, he mentioned Beauford and it was amazing! How I could meet these two brothers in two different countries, eight years apart?
Jo was very worried about Beauford. He told me he was at Sainte-Anne Hospital in Paris and that the French government had taken all his work and Jo could not go there because JO was broke and didn't understand the legalese, the language etc ....
And apparently James Baldwin had moved to the south and could no longer be of much help for Beauford at that point.
It was a heartbreaking story.
I was to visit my parents in Paris and there Beauford was - having an exhibit at the Studio Museum in Harlem. Jo asked me to go to the hospital and to try and help Beauford.
So I went to Paris and visited with Beauford at Sainte Anne's, giving him the catalog for the exhibition at the Studio Museum. But Beauford was in another place. I mean he was there but he could no longer communicate. He kept looking at his hands...those beautiful hands!
I returned to visit him a couple more times...brought him socks and pajamas and talked, talked about his brother, about his exhibit, about painting...
I do not know if Beauford understood. He never talked. He was in another world.
I returned to NY and saw Jo until I moved to California. When I returned from California a couple of years later, Jo was no longer in his Union Square place.
And I never saw Jo again.