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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


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