Les Amis de Beauford Delaney is supporting the completion of


the first full-length documentary about Beauford.

Join us in making this video tribute to Beauford a reality!



Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Beautiful Haunt of Beauford Delaney

by Silver Wainhouse

Silver Wainhouse is a woman of many talents and accomplishments. She is the archivist of the Wainhouse Collection at Syracuse University; the director at Womanistics; and an actress, writer, speaker, astrologist, and coach. Wainhouse fell in love with Beauford's story and is now writing a play about his life. As part of her preparation for this project, she and I visited Beauford's gravesite at Thiais Cemetery. She has graciously submitted the article below for publication on the Les Amis blog.

Beauford Delaney’s body, about to be exhumed from an unmarked grave to be moved to a collective grave, became indignant. So, it did what all great spirits do, it attached itself to someone to keep it alive. And that person was Dr. Monique Y. Wells. Monique, who was moved to satisfy a growing curiosity about African-American gravesites in Paris, was rumbled by Beauford’s baritone voice.

Beauford's unmarked grave - 2009
© Discover Paris!

Beauford, after all, was a notable painter whose list of friends and acquaintances included the likes of James Baldwin, Jackson Pollock, W. C. Handy, Ethel Waters, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Richard Wright and Duke Ellington. He painted Marian Anderson as she sang. Of course Monique Y. Wells would be infected by his spirit.

During a lunch I caught the Beauford virus as Monique told me about Beauford’s life and of her project to reintroduce Beauford Delaney to the world. “You must read Amazing Grace: A Life of Beauford Delaney by David Leeming,” she told me. “It is my Beauford bible.”

David Leeming does a remarkable job of immersing you in Beauford’s world. I will not see the colors of yellow and red as I did before. They have become Beauford’s colors when I see them, separate and merging. After reading Leeming’s book, I wanted to see his paintings. I wanted to visit his grave.

Monique and I coordinated a time for me to arrive, keeping in mind weather and the fact that I would have to take the northern bound to Paris train from Nîmes.

I felt as if I were on a holy pilgrimage and felt mounting tears. We stopped to buy yellow flowers to honor him. He so loved yellow. There was a sadness because we knew that he attempted to keep demons at bay his entire life, a contest he lost.

Silver Wainhouse at Beauford's Gravesite
© Discover Paris!

Thiais is a sprawling cemetery of 225 acres located 6.5 miles south of Paris. The sections range in appearance from desolate to noble. Beauford is in Section 86; now with a marked grave and hopefully with flowers from others who have discovered his beauty.

Thiais Cemetery - Division 86
© Discover Paris!

Jake Cigainero was piqued and a story about Beauford Delaney graced the New York Times. Just like in the ole days. It’s because Beauford Delaney has a way of getting into you. He really does.

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