Les Amis de Beauford Delaney is partnering with the Wells International Foundation (WIF) to take the Beauford Delaney: Resonance of Form and Vibration of Color exhibition to the U.S.!

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Saturday, July 2, 2016

Knoxville Museum of Art acquires two Beauford Delaney portraits


I am pleased to share the following release from the Knoxville Museum of Art:

The Knoxville Museum of Art announced its purchase two Beauford Delaney portraits from the artist’s estate: Portrait of Delia Delaney (1933), and Dante Pavone as Christ (1948). The purchase was made possible by financial assistance from the KMA’s Collectors Circle, a special membership group that helps support the development of the museum’s collection.

Portrait of Delia Delaney (1933) presents a bold and vibrant likeness of the artist’s mother, Delia (1865-1958), the stern matriarch of the family. The portrait was likely done during Beauford’s return trip to Knoxville in 1933. The portrait must have been an important keepsake, as the artist never sold it and used it as the basis for a larger oil portrait some 30 years later.

While Delaney describes her features with great attention to detail and conveys her strength, he transforms the background into an abstract study of luminous color.

Portrait of Delia Delaney
(1933) Pastel on paper
19 x 20 inches
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator
Knoxville Museum of Art, purchase with funds provided by the KMA Collectors Circle with additional gifts from Barbara Apking, June and Rob Heller, Donna Kerr, Alexandra Rosen and Donald Cooney, Ted Smith and David Butler, Mimi and Milton Turner, John Cotham, Jan and Pete Crawford, Cathy and Mark Hill, Florence and Russell Johnston, John Z. C. Thomas, Donna and Terry Wertz, Jayne and Myron Ely, Sarah Stowers, Robin and Joe Ben Turner, and Jacqueline Wilson

Dante Pavone as Christ (1948) depicts one of Beauford’s closest friends during the period in which the artist was living at 181 Greene Street in New York (1936-1953). Pavone (1910-1997) was a singer and later a voice coach for performers including Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Aretha Franklin, and Steven Tyler.

For years, Delaney was obsessed with depicting Pavone, and produced many portraits of him — several of which appear to represent the spirit of his sitter rather than his physical likeness. This portrait is especially unusual as the artist presents his subject as Christ, with his left hand raised in a gesture of blessing, and his head encircled by a halo of brilliant white light.

Dante Pavone as Christ
(1948) Pastel on paper
23 ¼ x 19 ¾ inches
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator
Knoxville Museum of Art, purchase with funds provided by the KMA Collectors Circle with additional gifts from Barbara Apking, June and Rob Heller, Donna Kerr, Alexandra Rosen and Donald Cooney, Ted Smith and David Butler, Mimi and Milton Turner, John Cotham, Jan and Pete Crawford, Cathy and Mark Hill, Florence and Russell Johnston, John Z. C. Thomas, Donna and Terry Wertz, Jayne and Myron Ely, Sarah Stowers, Robin and Joe Ben Turner, and Jacqueline Wilson

As Delaney’s friend author Henry Miller observed in The Amazing and Invariable Beauford Delaney (1945),
Supposing that for the next five years he [Delaney] were to do nothing but Dante...Dante was a wondrous landscape for Beauford; he had cosmic proportions, and his skull though shorn of locks was full of mystery. A man studying his friend day in and day out for five years ought to arrive at some remarkable conclusions. With time Dante could become for Beauford what Oedipus became for Freud.


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