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.!

We value your support!

TO MAKE A DONATION, CLICK HERE.
(All or part of your gift through WIF may qualify as a charitable deductible in the U.S.)

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Beauford on Abstract Expressionist List for Exhibition that Never Came to Be

Catherine St. John, Doctor of Arts, retired Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences at Berkeley College in New Jersey, and long time supporter of Les Amis de Beauford Delaney, called my attention to a recently published article in Art News. It tells the story of a comprehensive exhibition of Abstract Expressionist work that never took place.

Walter Hopps, founding director of the Menil Collection in Houston, and art historian Bill Agee wanted to curate this show. Their intent was to show the works of men and women painters and sculptors that represented four decades of artistic creation (1940s-1980s) across the United States. Because Walter Hopps died in 2005, the exhibition never took place.

Dr. St. John wanted me to see the article because it presents the lists of desired artists whose works Hopps and Agee wanted to include in the exhibition. Beauford's name (misspelled) appears on Agee's list, along with the name of twp of Beauford's dearest friends, Charley Boggs and Larry Calcagno. Beauford and Boggs are included in the list of painters from the "East," while Calcagno is part of the list of painters from the "West."

Header for e-mail sent to Walter Hopps by Bill Agee
Screenshot from Art News article

Partial list mentioning Charlie Boggs and Beauford
Screenshot from Art News article

Partial list mentioning Larry Calcagno
Screenshot from Art News article

Dr. St. John indicated that references to Beauford as an Abstract Expressionist artist are not common and that his inclusion in this list is important.

Larry Calcagno, Beauford, and Charley Boggs in Venice
Photo from Amazing Grace: A Life of Beauford Delaney (1998)






Saturday, April 22, 2017

Beauford Delaney-James Baldwin Correspondence in James Baldwin Archive Sealed for 20 Years

It is well known that Beauford and James Baldwin had a deep and abiding friendship. What we know of that friendship comes mainly from the publication of biographies about Baldwin, writings by Baldwin, and the single biography that exists about Beauford.

James Baldwin and Beauford at the American Cultural Center
Photo: U.S. Information Service

When I learned that the Schomburg Center has acquired the Baldwin archive, I was excited! The center already holds a collection of Beauford's papers and having both archives at the same institution will make deeper scholarly investigation of the Beauford-Baldwin relationship much easier.

Or so I thought.

As I read the New York Times article that announced the acquisition, my excitement quickly faded. In Paragraph 8, writer Jennifer Schuessler reveals that "Baldwin’s correspondence with four of his closest intimates is under 20-year seal" and ten paragraphs later, she reveals that "Correspondence with Delaney is covered by the 20-year seal."

Schuessler mentions unpublished notes by Baldwin about Beauford and this text is coupled with a photo of part of a page of handwritten notes that were published as an essay in the Studio Museum of Harlem catalog for the Beauford Delaney: A Retrospective exhibition in 1978.

Detail of a page from Baldwin's essay "Notes on Beauford Delaney"
Original photo by Emon Hassan

Beauford Delaney: A Retrospective - catalog cover
1978 Studio Museum of Harlem

It is not clear whether Schuessler knew that the essay had indeed been published.

The 20-year seal also covers correspondence between Baldwin and his brother David; his friend and lover, Lucien Happersberger, and his friend Mary Painter. Painter was also a close friend of Beauford, so it is possible that some of the letters exchanged by Painter and Baldwin discuss Beauford.

To see the Schomburg Center's Web page that details the contents of the James Baldwin archive, click HERE.

To see the Schomburg Center's Web page that details all documentation concerning Beauford, click HERE.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Gathering Light: Works by Beauford Delaney from the Knoxville Museum of Art Collection

In two short weeks, I'll be winging my way to Beauford's hometown of Knoxville to participate in the opening festivities for Gathering Light, a solo exhibition of Beauford's works from the Knoxville Museum of Art's collection. The exhibition will be held from May 5 - July 23, 2017.


From the museum's Web site:

Gathering Light includes approximately 40 of Delaney’s paintings and drawings — nearly all of which have never before been on public view — that were purchased from the artist’s estate between 2014 and 2016 in what is likely the most significant art acquisition in the KMA’s history.

Delaney is widely considered greatest artist Knoxville ever produced, and one of the most important American abstract painters of the late 20th century. The portraits, landscapes, and abstractions featured in Gathering Light provide a fascinating cross-section of the artist’s stellar career and demonstrate his ability to distill scenes of everyday life into explorations of the expressive power of color. Complementing these is a selection of paintings from the artist’s estate that the KMA hopes to acquire.

Knoxville Museum of Art
© Wells International Foundation

I will speak to a select group of KMA's key stakeholders and supporters during a private event to be held on the evening of May 3 and will attend the opening reception on May 4. I'm very much looking forward to viewing so many of Beauford's previously unseen works and having the opportunity to comment on them.

I will also meet with Dr. Avice Reid, the City of Knoxville's Senior Director of Community Relations; Rev. Reneé Kesler, President and CEO of the Beck Cultural Exchange Center; members of KMA's millennial group, Art House; and members of the Knoxville chapter of The Links Incorporated. All of us will discuss various ways in which we can move the Beauford Delaney in America initiative forward.

Gathering Light will provide a taste of what Knoxville can expect when the Beauford Delaney: Resonance of Form and Vibration of Color exhibition travels from Paris to KMA in 2018. The dates for the latter exhibition are August 24 - November 4, 2018.


Saturday, April 8, 2017

Beauford's Reflections on Abstraction in Art

... that which they call abstract is the most realist, because what is real is not the exterior form, but the idea, the essence of things.
~Constantin Brancusi

Beauford was known for his philosophical musings. In Amazing Grace: A Life of Beauford Delaney, biographer David A. Leeming talks about Beauford's acquaintance with Constantin Brancusi and his agreement with Brancusi's opinion about abstraction in art (see quote above). Leeming says that Beauford had made similar statements since the 1930s, long before he met Brancusi in Paris.

Beauford expressed the following about abstraction in art in a 1970 conversation with Richard A. Long:

The abstraction, ostensibly, is simply for me the penetration of something that is more profound in many ways than rigidity of a form. A form if it breathes some, if it has some enigma to it, it is also the enigma that is the abstract, I would think.

In Amazing Grace, Leeming discusses how Beauford's abstractions and portraits were extensions of each other. He describes Beauford's portraiture as being "more about masses of color and the 'enigma' of form than about likeness." Beauford's portraits of James Baldwin (Dark Rapture) and Ella Fitzgerald are two exquisite examples of this.

Dark Rapture
(1941) Oil on canvas
33 1/2" x 27 3/8"
Private collection
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Portrait of Ella Fitzgerald
(1968) Oil on canvas
24" x 19.5"
Permanent collection of the SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah
Gift of Dr. Walter O. and Mrs. Linda J. Evans
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator


After his breakdown, a visit to the Musée d'Art Moderne to see an exhibition of Joan Miró's work in July 1962 inspired Beauford to begin painting in earnest again. He wrote to Henry Miller of needing "to work with the problem of trying to get color into proper form and texture on canvas" so that it corresponded to "the form in our mind and life." Biographer Leeming notes that Beauford began producing the large yellow abstractions of his rue Vercingétorix period at this time.

Untitled
Beauford Delaney (1901-1979)
(1963) Oil on canvas
39 1/2" x 32", signed and dated
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator
Image courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York, NY


Untitled (Abstraction #7)
(1964) Oil on canvas
51 1/4" x 38 1/4", signed and dated
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator
Image courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY


Saturday, April 1, 2017

Beauford in the Knoxville News-Sentinel

The Knoxville News-Sentinel, one of the principal newspapers of Beauford's hometown of Knoxville, TN, has published several articles about him throughout the years.

Knoxville News-Sentinel - current masthead

The most recent one appeared in the arts section of the paper last July: A movement is underway to recognize artist Beauford Delaney in his hometown of Knoxville

Steve Cotham of the East Tennessee History Center kindly sent me copies of several older articles that the paper published about Beauford. Dating from 1935 to 1978, they report on his life in New York, art exhibitions that he participated in, his visits home, and his hospitalization in Paris. Here are some of the headlines:

Article published 8 February 1942

"Knoxville Negro Artist Has Successful Exhibit" was written by Miss Della Yoe. Yoe refers to Beauford as being a "Negro artist formerly of Knoxville," and spells his name "Beuford." She mentions his 1941 exhibition in Washington Square in Spring 1941, acknowledging its success, and notes that it was reviewed in The News-Sentinel. Much of the article consists of an extensive quote from a Don Freeman essay about Beauford.

Article published 1 January 1970

"Knoxvillian Back From 16-Year Visit" indicates that Beauford (spelled "Buford" in the article) "went to Paris intending to visit three weeks. Now, 16 years later, he has finally interrupted a successful art career in France to return for a visit in Knoxville." The unnamed writer mentions that Beauford stayed with his brother Samuel at 1935 Dandridge Avenue and that his intent was to "do some painting and just visit" during his trip. He states that many of Beauford's portraits hung in French homes and that one of his paintings "hangs in the Lausanne Gallery in Switzerland."

Article published 9 August 1976

"Paris Artists Aim To Free Ex-Knox Painter, 73, and Send Him Home" contains several quotes from Beauford's friend, Jean-Loup Msika. Writer William Steif refers to the efforts of Msika and several other artists to get Beauford released from Sainte-Anne's Hospital and establish a private residence for him where he could paint and receive nursing care. It says that Beauford suffered from "hardening of the arteries," which made him forgetful and indicates that James Baldwin believed Beauford would benefit from going back to the southern United States.

Baldwin apparently did not know that Beauford had family remaining in Knoxville - a companion article entitled "Delaney Has Brother and Niece in Knoxville" talks about Samuel Delaney, his wife, and their daughter Imogene, who lived at 1935 Dandridge Avenue. This is the address of the home that the Beck Cultural Exchange Center in Knoxville has purchased and plans to restore.

The East Tennessee History Center hopes to become the permanent home of the Beauford Delaney archives.

East Tennessee History Center
© Wells International Foundation

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Beauford's Portrait of Larry Calcagno Sold at Auction

Last Saturday, Tyler Fine Art x Ripley Auctions presented Beauford's portrait of Larry Calcagno for sale at its "African-American Artists - A Fine Art Auction."

Portrait of a Young Man (Larry Calcagno)
(1953) Oil on canvas
31.75" x 25.5" (80.6 cm x 64.8 cm)
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

The painting sold for $15,000. At the time of this writing, I am not able to confirm whether this price includes a buyer's premium.

To read about the friendship shared by Beauford and Larry Calcagno, visit the following links:

A Boundless Love: Beauford Delaney's Letters to Larry Calcagno (2016)


Beauford and Larry Calcagno (2011)


Saturday, March 18, 2017

Beauford's Portrait of Larry Calcagno to Be Auctioned

Tyler Fine Art x Ripley Auctions is presenting "African-American Artists - A Fine Art Auction" at 11:00 AM on March 18, 2017 (today). Beauford's Portrait of a Young Man (Larry Calcagno) is among the works for sale.

Portrait of a Young Man (Larry Calcagno)
(1953) Oil on canvas
31.75" x 25.5" (80.6 cm x 64.8 cm)
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Two extensive articles on Beauford and Calcagno's relationship can be found on this blog:

A Boundless Love: Beauford Delaney's Letters to Larry Calcagno (2016)


and

Beauford and Larry Calcagno (2011)


Calcagno painted a portrait of his friend in 1975:

Larry Calcagno's Portrait of Beauford (2011)

The Calcagno portrait was part of the Beauford Delaney: From New York to Paris exhibition, which was shown at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Knoxville Museum of Art, the Greenville County Museum of Art, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2004-2006.

The portrait has been assigned Lot Number 24. Its estimated value is $15,000-20,000.

A Beauford Delaney lithograph (Lot 25) entitled Lithography Afrique is also up for auction in this show (estimated value is $1500-$2500).

Ripley Auctions
2764 East 55th Place
Indianapolis, IN 46220

For additional information, call 317-251-5635.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

A. C. Hudgins' Beauford Delaney Abstract


A.C. Hudgins has a passion for collecting the work of contemporary African-American artists. He owns only a few works by "dead artists." The Beauford Delaney abstract shown below is one of them.

Untitled
(not dated) Oil on canvas
Signed on rear of painting
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Signature at the rear of Untitled
Oil on canvas
Signed on rear of painting
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Given that Beauford indicated his Vercingétorix address beneath his signature at the rear of the painting, it must date from at least 1962.

Hudgins acquired this work from a dealer on the upper east side of NYC - a woman who handles Paul Jenkins' estate. She was once on the board of the Studio Museum of Harlem.

Hudgins saw the painting and liked it. He had a MoMA conservator evaluate it and was told that the work was in pristine condition. Based on that assessment, he purchased it.

Hudgins marvels at how this painting "reads differently" in various areas of his home, depending on the lighting that is present in the room.

It is likely that Beauford gave this work to Paul Jenkins. The two men met in New York a short time before Beauford left his Greene Street studio in 1952, and they remained friends after Beauford moved to Paris. Their work was shown in a group exhibition at the Galerie Arnaud in Paris in March 1965.

Jenkins wrote about Beauford in an article entitled "A Quiet Legend." Published in Art International, Volume 6, No. 10, December 20, 1962, it begins as follows:

Beauford Delaney's role in the painting of today has been that of a quiet legend. He lived for many years in New York, on Greene Street in Greenwich Village, where his loft drew people like a magnet...

Beauford's biographer, David A. Leeming, quotes Jenkins as writing the following about Beauford's early Paris works:

The way he painted, moved into a certain radiant generalization. In the paint he let go of a specific personal identity and moved closer and closer toward the constant, the original light coming from the canvas. ... These paintings could be churches of no denomination.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Maggie Umber's Artistic Tribute to Beauford


Several days ago, I received a "Google Alert" about Beauford. One of the links provided led me to the image below.



Portrait of Beauford Delaney
Maggie Umber
(2017) Watercolor on rough paper

Intrigued, I contacted the artist. Her name is Maggie Umber and she graciously granted me an interview for the blog.

Umber is a professional artist. Her interest in art began at a young age - from 3rd to 6th grade, she took after-school and Saturday art classes. She tutored kids in drawing throughout middle school and began selling paintings in high school. A graduate of Perpich Center for Arts Education in Golden Valley, MN, she went on to earn a B.A. in Studio Arts with a focus on intaglio printmaking from Hamline University in St. Paul, MN. She is now a cartoonist, freelance artist, and associate publisher at the comic book company, 2dcloud.

Umber learned about Beauford because her mother is a fan of his work. She took Umber to see Beauford Delaney: From New York to Paris at the Minneapolis Institute of Art in 2004.

As a result, Umber says she often goes to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts to see displays of Beauford’s work. She talked about the untitled abstract oil raincoat painting that is framed in a case away from the wall that is on permanent display. She also reported that Jazz Quartet is on display again.

She said that Beauford's Untitled (Washington Square Park) "comes and goes," along with his mixed media Self-Portrait, Yaddo. She also mentioned that the Georgia O’Keefe portrait of Beauford that is on a long-term loan to the museum wasn't being displayed at the time of our interview.

I asked Umber what she likes about Beauford's work. She responded:

I like the thickness and heavy texture of his paint application and his vivid color palette! His paintings are bold and expressive and his compositions are dynamic. His paintings pop off the walls with their powerful energy!

Umber says she was inspired by Beauford's painting style when she did his portrait. But she says the painting still looks like her style, not as much like Beauford's style as she would like.

She believes that painting from another artist’s work is a good way to learn because "they make choices that you would never think of and it makes you realize your habits."

Umber selected the colors and for the portrait after doing a Google search and finding images of Beauford’s self-portrait from the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago "It is such a great painting and the colors!!!" she says.

Self-portrait
Oil on canvas (1944)
Art Institute of Chicago
© Estate of Beauford Delaney, by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire, Court Appointed Administrator

She modeled the attire from the photo that was possibly taken of Beauford at his easel by Gjon Mili.

Portrait of Beauford Delaney
(ca. 1950)
Possibly by Gjon Mili

Umber's love of portraiture stems from her high school and college years. Her passion for subjects of African descent began when she was commissioned to do a portrait of Bob Marley.

Fifteen years later, as the associate publisher of 2dcloud and a freelance artist, this passion persists - she did three brush pen portraits of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Moms Mabley and Billie Holiday during Black History Month 2016. She decided that she wants to do a series of these paintings every February:

This year I decided to do watercolor portraits. My mom said, “You better paint Beauford Delaney!” But I had already put him on my list. I had done a portrait of James Baldwin inspired by the colors from Beauford’s portrait of him from the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Portrait of James Baldwin
(1945) Oil on canvas
Philadelphia Museum of Art
© Estate of Beauford Delaney, by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire, Court Appointed Administrator

Portrait of James Baldwin
Maggie Umber
(2017) Watercolor on rough paper

I love Beauford's painting and I wanted to learn more about him. I would like to do a lot of portraits of visual artists for my Black History Month series. I wish that there had been more of a focus on African American artists in the books, classes and museums when I was growing up and learning to be a painter.

I painted Beauford's portrait on Thursday night, February 16, 2017. For most of the portraits in the watercolor series I penciled in the portrait first. But for this painting I just went straight to paint.

See more of Umber's 2017 Black History Month watercolors HERE.




Saturday, February 25, 2017

More Beauford Delaney Works at Auction

Beauford's work is growing ever more popular with auction houses in the U.S. and France.

Last week, his Untitled (Green) was sold by Quinn's Auction Galleries during their "African American Artists: Featuring the Inventory and Collection of Merton D. Simpson" sale.

Untitled or Green
(1963) Watercolor on paper
26" x 19 1/2" (66 cm x 49.5 cm)
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

The work (Lot #3) fetched $8,400, including a 20% buyer's premium. The estimated bid range was $2000-$4000.

Earlier this month, the purchase price for a stunning still life from Beauford's New York years far exceeded its estimated bid of $6000 to $8000.

Still Life with Eggplant & Fruit
Pastel on paper
signed and dated ’49 lower left
Framed, sight: 19 in. x 25 in. (48.3 cm x 63.5 cm)
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Still Life with Eggplant and Fruit (Lot #1123) was auctioned by Sloans & Kenyon in Chevy Chase, MD on February 12th. It sold for $25,095, including a 19.5% buyer's premium.

On February 22nd, an unusual watercolor (Lot 324) was auctioned by Expertisez.com in Paris, France.

Untitled
Aquarelle signed et dated 1961, lower right
51 x 65 cm (20.1" x 25.6")
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

It sold for 3,200€. The estimated price was 3000€ to 4000€.




Saturday, February 18, 2017

Beauford's Untitled (Green) at Quinn's Auction Galleries

Untitled (Green) is up for auction at Quinn's Auction Galleries. The sale is entitled "African American Artists: Featuring the Inventory and Collection of Merton D. Simpson."

Untitled or Green
(1963) Watercolor on paper
26" x 19 1/2"
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

This watercolor on paper is signed and dated 1963. To the left of his signature, Beauford dedicated the work to Dr. Ferdière and his family in a note dated 1965.

Untitled or Green - signature
(1963) Watercolor on paper
26" x 19 1/2"
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Beauford's message to the doctor reads:

Pour Dr. Ferdière a sa famille avec boucoup amour pour 1965. [sic]
(Translation: For Dr. Ferdière and his family with much love for 1965.)

Dr. Gaston Ferdière was the physician who treated Beauford at La Maison du Santé de Nogent sur Marne, a psychiatric clinic located in a southeast Paris suburb, beginning in 1961. In Amazing Grace: A Life of Beauford Delaney, biographer David A. Leeming says:

Ferdière spoke English and had a good knowledge of painting and the arts . . .

Eventually, in the course of regular appointments during the years immediately after Beauford's hospitalization, Ferdière and his family also became Beauford's social friends.

The year 1963 was a relatively good one for Beauford in terms of his mental health. With Dr. Ferdière's help, he was able to begin exploring his sexuality more deeply and he was able to open up and discuss it with close friends such as James Baldwin and Howard Swanson.

In 1965, Beauford found it increasingly difficult to follow Dr. Ferdière's orders and began missing scheduled doctor's appointments. Yet he enjoyed visits with several friends that year and made works available for a group show at the American Cultural Center in Paris.

The "African American Artists" auction will take place on February 18, 2017 at 11 AM EST.

For more information, click HERE.


Saturday, February 11, 2017

Central Park, 1950

Celeste Hampton recently contacted me about Central Park, the beautiful pastel on paper from Beauford's New York period that is shown below.

Central Park
(1950) Pastel on paper
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

She recognized the work as one that had been given to her many years ago by her friend and mentor, Jordan Massee, and generously shared her story about Massee and the pastel. I have summarized it below.


Jordan Massee was a native of Macon, Georgia. He had a finely-tuned appreciation for all things cultural and he shared this passion with Hampton.

Massee lived in New York City for several years and ran an art gallery on 57th Street for a time. He knew Beauford and appreciated Beauford's art. Hampton says that Beauford gave Central Park to Massee as payment for a debt.

Massee framed the work and eventually gave it to Hampton as a college graduation present in 1987. Hampton proudly hung it in her home.

Some time after Massee's death, Hampton remembered that Massee had told her the pastel could be "worth something" - perhaps one or two thousand dollars. In April 2002, she took it to the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery (MRG) in New York City for appraisal, accompanied by a representative of the Harriet Tubman Museum in Macon. The museum considered acquiring the work, but because it is a work on paper as opposed to an oil painting, it was not the "right fit" for their collection.

Michael Rosenfeld provided additional details to this story, stating that the pastel was mounted to a piece of acidic cardboard and was removed from the mount. He purchased it from Hampton when she determined she could not pay for its restoration and would not be able to provide the appropriate care for it in her home.

MRG considered including Central Park in the gallery's exhibition entitled African American Art: 20th Century Masterworks, IX, which traveled to the Tubman Museum and opened on April 29, 2002. Because the work was purchased soon before the exhibition opening, it was not possible to have it conserved and re-framed in time to be included in that show.

In 2003, MRG displayed Central Park in its exhibition titled African American Art: 20th Century Masterworks, X and an image of the work was published in the exhibition catalog.

During the 2003 exhibition, MRG sold the pastel to a private collector.

I asked Hampton if she could share information about Beauford's and Massee's relationship and she consulted her uncle, Bismarck Reine, for details. Reine was a dear friend of Massee and spent a great deal of time with him.

According to Reine, Massee had great respect for Beauford. The two men had "more of an intellectual relationship than anything else." They likely met through an introduction by Paul Bigelow, who was Massee's partner at the time.

Regarding the gift of Central Park to Massee, Reine said the following:
The painting was definitely Beauford's way of repaying Jordan for supplies, paints and more. Delaney never had money for supplies, but he always repaid his debts with work. [I do] not know the nature of the specific debt, but Jordan bought him paints and colored pencil and art supplies more than once. It was not a question of Jordan wanting or needing the money back - in Jordan's eyes the money was a gift.

Hampton and Reine recall that Beauford painted a portrait of Paul Bigelow, but neither of them knows its whereabouts today.




Saturday, February 4, 2017

Beauford's Distant Horizons at Georgia Museum of Art's Expanding Tradition Exhibition

The Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia in Athens is currently showing nearly 60 works by African-American artists in the exhibition Expanding Tradition: Selections from the Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Collection.

Among them is Beauford's 1952 abstract, Distant Horizons.

Distant Horizons
(1952) Oil on canvas
15.75 X 19.74 in.
Signed and dated at lower left
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

This painting was shown in From New York to Paris, the exhibition organized by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in 2004-2005 and in the Higher Ground exhibition organized by the Knoxville Museum of Art in 2014.

From the From New York to Paris exhibition catalog, we learn that:

In June of 1953, Carl Leeds won this painting at a raffle: "At some point during the summer, Delaney's friends gathered at a fund-raiser organized by the Roko Gallery to help finance the artist's trip abroad. The donation box appropriately was built in the shape of a boat, with each contributor getting a chance at a lottery. The door prize, like the donation box, was rife with symbolic significance, being Delaney's painting titled Distant Horizons."

Beauford had his final solo show at the Roko Gallery in January 1953 and participated in a group show there in April 1953. In preparation for his trip to Paris, he left many of his paintings at the gallery and left others in his loft at 713 Broadway.

Carl Leeds owned Distant Horizons for 55 years until his passing in 2007. It was subsequently acquired by Robert Abramson of New York and entered the Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Collection when the Thompsons purchased it from Swann Auction Galleries in 2009.

About the style in which Beauford painted Distant Horizons, Patricia Sue Canterbury says that Beauford was
...moving in an increasingly abstract direction where suggestion supplants illustration and the background becomes secondary to the central figures.

Expanding Tradition is the inaugural exhibition for Shawnya Harris, the Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Curator of African American and African Diasporic Art. It is on view from January 28 to May 7, 2017.

Georgia Museum of Art
90 Carlton Street
Athens, GA 30602-1502
Telephone: 706-542-4662
Internet: georgiamuseum.org

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Beauford's Acrylic Still Life on Board Sold at Case Antiques Auction

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about an unusual Beauford Delaney abstract that Case Antiques in Knoxville, TN offered at auction:

Abstract Still Life Composition
(1976) Oil on board, acrylic and mixed media
Signed and dated lower left "Beauford Delaney 1976"
13 7/8" H x 19 5/8"
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

This acrylic still life sold for a total of $8024 ($6800 bid plus buyer's premium of 26%). The winning bid was $800 above the highest predicted selling price.

The provenance for the painting is listed as "Private South Carolina collection, originally purchased from the Tree Gallery in Chicago, Illinois." It will now enter a different private collection.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Beauford's Portrait of Irene Rose

Beauford's magnificent portrait of his friend Irene Rose is one of works being shown at the ACA Galleries exhibition On Such a Night as This.

Portrait of Irene Rose
(1944) Oil on board
45 1/2 in x 35 in
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator
Photo courtesy of ACA Galleries, New York

The exhibition takes its name from Romare Bearden's 1975 collage on board, which is displayed in the show. Other artists whose works are displayed include John Biggers, Elizabeth Catlett, Loïs Mailou Jones, Jacob Lawrence, Edmonia Lewis, Norman Lewis, Henry O. Tanner, and Hale Woodruff.

Irene and Billy Rose were friends of Beauford from Philadelphia, introduced to him by Dorothy Gates. They would maintain a lifelong friendship. With Gates, Irene drove Beauford to Saratoga for his 1950 fellowship stay at Yaddo. She visited him in Paris in 1955, when he lived at the Hôtel des Ecoles. Billy Rose gave Beauford the raincoat that Beauford turned into canvas in 1954.

Portrait of Irene Rose is currently held in a private collection. It is displayed in ACA Galleries' viewing room during the exhibition.

Originally scheduled to run from November 10 - December 22, 2016, On Such a Night as This has been extended through January 28, 2017.

ACA Galleries
529 West 20th Street
New York, NY 10011
Telephone: 212-206-8080
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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Case Antiques Auction of Beauford Delaney Abstract

An unusual Beauford Delaney abstract is up for auction at Case Antiques in Knoxville, TN:

Abstract Still Life Composition
(1976) Oil on board, acrylic and mixed media
Signed and dated lower left "Beauford Delaney 1976"
13 7/8" H x 19 5/8"
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

This piece is dated 1976, which is the year after Beauford was committed to Sainte-Anne's Hospital. It is the first piece I recall seeing that dates from the last four years of his life.

Abstract Still Life Composition (detail)
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

The provenance is listed as "Private South Carolina collection, originally purchased from the Tree Gallery in Chicago, Illinois."

I had hoped to interview Jim Romano, owner of the Tree Gallery, to learn how he acquired the painting. The Tree Gallery was located at 613 Tree Studios of the historically-classified Tree Studios Building and Annexes in Chicago's River North district. This property was renovated in the early 2000s and all occupants were forced to vacate the premises.

Upon researching Romano, I learned that he died in 2007.

Case Antiques has sold the following Beauford Delaney paintings in the past:

Untitled
Watercolor on paper
Signed and dated lower left in red ink, "Beauford Delaney 1971"
Photo courtesy of Case Antiques
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator


Portrait of Delia Delaney
(1964) Oil on canvas
Knoxville Museum of Art
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator


Untitled (Abstract of Face)
Oil on fabric pillowcase
Photo courtesy of Case Antiques
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator


The estimated sale price for Acrylic Still Life Composition is $4,000 - $6,000.

The auction is scheduled for January 21, 2017. For additional information, contact Case Antiques at

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Saturday, January 7, 2017

Beauford at the American Cultural Center's Paris Celebration of Henry Miller

Henry Miller and Beauford met for the first time in New York during the early 1940s. Miller visited Beauford's Greene Street studio in the fall of 1943 and Beauford painting a stunning portrait of him in 1944.

Beauford showed the painting during a group exhibition in New York in 1945 and had it shipped to Miller's home in Big Sur in 1946. An image of the portrait was included in a 1971 Playboy article about Miller.

Photo of Henry Miller at his home in Big Sur
standing in front of Beauford's portrait of him
Photo from Beauford Delaney archives
reproduced by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator
Image @Wells International Foundation

Beauford and Miller developed a deep and lifelong friendship and Beauford was one of the persons Miller sought out whenever he visited Paris.

So it is perhaps not surprising that when the American Cultural Center in Paris organized a birthday celebration for Miller in January 1972, Beauford would be invited to participate in the festivities.

Don Foresta was the director of the American Cultural Center, AKA "The Dragon Center," at the time. I met him in Paris and he shared the story of this event for publication in the blog.

Foresta took on the directorship of the Center in 1971 as a long-time diplomat of the U.S. Foreign Service. Shortly thereafter, he was approached by Robert Snyder, Miller's son-in-law, about screening Snyder's 1969 documentary entitled "The Henry Miller Odyssey." Inspired by Snyder's request, Foresta organized a birthday celebration for Miller that took place at the Center in January 1972. (Miller was born on December 26, 1891.)

Snyder told Foresta about Beauford and Foresta met Beauford shortly thereafter. He visited Beauford at the rue Vercingétorix studio and found him to be quite serious and not very talkative.

Foresta went on to invite four artists who knew Miller and whose work Miller appreciated to contribute works to be shown at the week-long event: Beauford, Brassaï (Gyula Halász), Michonze, and Hans Reichel. Their exhibition was called Les Amis Parisiens de Henry Miller.

The Center published a catalog of sorts, which included a printed list of the seven works that Beauford contributed to the show and a full-page color reproduction of Beauford's portrait of Miller that is signed by Beauford in blue ink at the bottom margin of the page.


Portrait of Henry Miller
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator
Image (detail) from Abe Books Web site

Miller's favorite music was played on piano and French translations of some of his texts were read.

While the description of the event in Beauford'd biography, Amazing Grace: A Life of Beauford Delaney, indicates that Miller attended the event, Foresta says that Miller could not travel to Paris to celebrate his birthday. Both sources state that Miller shipped Beauford's portrait to Paris and that it served as the centerpiece of the art exhibition.

Beauford wrote a tribute to Miller for his 80th birthday, which I published previously on the Les Amis blog. Read it HERE.

"Henry Miller 80," the document that the American Cultural Center printed for the event, is a collector's item. It is available for purchase at Abe Books and at Amazon.com.