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, June 23, 2018

Teaching Social Studies Using Beauford's Art

I recently came across a lesson plan for 5th grade students in Knox County Schools* that teaches the Great Migration and the Harlem Renaissance through having students create self-portraits inspired by Beauford's self-portraits.

Students participating in this lesson had been previously introduced to the Harlem Renaissance and Beauford's artwork. In this lesson, they were instructed to use pencils and colored pencils "to create simple self-portraits that show symmetry and personality through exaggerated features....This self-portrait can reflect personality, in the style of Beauford Delaney, by drawing facial features of different sizes and with exaggerated emphasis." The students used colored pencils to "map out" areas in their portraits where they would apply paint in a subsequent lesson.

Here are some examples of Beauford's self-portraiture, which illustrate the exaggerated features that the lesson plan asks the students to emulate.

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

Self-portrait
(1972) Gouache on paper
Collection of David Leeming
© Estate of Beauford Delaney,
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Auto-portrait
(1965) Oil on canvas
Whitney Museum of American Art
© Estate of Beauford Delaney,
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

This lesson is described as "a cross-curricular art project featuring 5th grade Social Studies standards..." It is a wonderful example of arts integration!

*Knox County Schools is the school district that operates all public schools in Knox County, Tennessee. It is headquartered in Beauford's hometown of Knoxville.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Yellow is for Summer

Beauford's yellow abstractions remind me of the warmth and sunshine of summer.

Today I'm sharing images of several of my favorites in celebration of the season!

Soullis Toucas
(Beauford's gift to Roy Freeman)
Oil on canvas
© Estate of Beauford Delaney,
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Portrait of Ella Fitzgerald
(1968) Oil on canvas
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

Composition 16
(1954-56) Oil on canvas
Private Collection
© 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 (Rainbow Abstraction)
(1962) Watercolor and gouache on paper
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator
Photo courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries

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

Untitled (Abstraction I)
(ca. 1960) Oil on prepared fabric
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

We're going to post on a more relaxed schedule over the next several weeks so we can take some time to rest in anticipation of the fall. Be sure to continue to check in here so you can enjoy the latest articles about Beauford's life and art.

Enjoy your summer vacation!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Beauford at 1964 "Cloudburst" Show in Paris


From 26 May through 1 June 1964, Beauford participated in a group exhibition at the Galerie internationale d'art contemporain at 253 rue Saint Honoré in Paris' 1st arrondissement.

The show was called Le nuage crève (Cloudburst) and the following artists' works were displayed:

Nasser Assar, Beaufort [sic] Delanay, Compard, Duvillier, Graziani, Laubiès, Lerin.

Julien Alvard wrote the introduction for the show's catalog. Beauford's biographer, David Leeming, reports that Alvard praised Beauford's submission as an "emanation of the sun" in which one finds all seasons but winter...

There were no images included in the catalog and I do not know which painting of Beauford's was exhibited during the show.

But Alvard's description reminded me of the exquisite abstract entitled Scattered Light, which is dated 1964 and owned by the Knoxville Museum of Art.

Scattered Light
(1964) Oil on canvas
36 5/8 X 28 3/4 inches
Knoxville Museum of Art, purchase with funds provided by the Rachael Patterson Young Art Acquisition Reserve, 2015
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire, Court Appointed Administrator

One can easily become mesmerized by gazing at this work, in which you can see almost anything your mind can imagine!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

French "Classes Duo" Student in Search of Beauford in NYC

Simon, one of the French students in the Classes Duo Paris / Knoxville project, recently visited New York City with his family. One of the family's goals was to view as many Beauford Delaney works as possible.

Juliette Blache, the project coordinator in Paris, received an e-mail from Simon's mother with the following photo attached:

Simon and Composition 16 at MoMA
Image courtesy of Simon's mother

The message revealed that the family had just visited MoMA and that Simon was excited to stand next to an original Beauford Delaney abstract.

The family had visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art and learned that the Met's Beauford Delaney work is not currently on display. They had also planned to visit the Studio Museum of Harlem, but learned that the museum is undergoing renovation.

Blache immediately contacted me to share the photo and said Simon's mother wanted me to recommend other places where they could view Beauford's work. I told them about the five works held by the Whitney Museum of American Art and suggested that they go to the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery (MRG) as well.

Simon and his family did visit the gallery and they had a wonderful experience there. Simon and his mom shared the information below:

Simon and MRG Senior Associate Zachary Ross "swapped stories" about Beauford - with Simon sharing many of the things he has learned about Beauford through Classes Duo. As an example, he told Ross that Beauford modeled with Tennessee red clay when he was a child. Ross told Simon that he / she was aware of this and shared that Beauford lived on rue Vercingétorix (a street that is very near Simon's school) in Paris.

Ross invited Simon and his family to go "behind the scenes" to visit the area where many of Beauford's paintings are stored. Simon reported that they saw a portrait, a "painting of a man and a woman," and two abstract paintings, one of which is an "enormous" yellow painting found in the Liquid Light: Paris Abstractions catalog from the exhibition of the same name organized by MRG in 1999.

Liquid Light catalog cover
Image courtesy of Simon's mother

Image of yellow abstract painting in Liquid Light catalog
Image courtesy of Simon's mother

Simon said that Ross explained that "Beauford looked out his window to paint what he saw, but 'in abstract.'"

Simon's mother has exchanged e-mails with Ross and has given him the link for the Classes Duo timeline so everyone at MRG can follow the project's progress. Ross has shared the link for the timeline with everyone at the gallery and is excited that Beauford has so many young fans!

Last week, Simon proudly returned to school bearing a copy of the Liquid Light catalog, which Ross graciously offered to Simon. The children at Jean Zay Elementary Public School now have the Resonance of Form and Liquid Light catalogs to use for inspiration when they create art during the Classes Duo project.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Delia Delaney - Beauford's Beloved Mother

In celebration of Mother's Day 2018, I decided to devote this week's blog post to Beauford's beloved mother, Delia Delaney.

The first three pages of the first chapter in Beauford's biography, Amazing Grace: A Life of Beauford Delaney, are devoted to "Delia Johnson Delaney, a strict, proud woman who upheld what she saw as the Christian virtues."

Image of 1953 portrait of Delia Delaney from
Amazing Grace: A Life of Beauford Delaney

In reading these pages, we learn that Delia was born into slavery in February 1865, that she never learned to read or write, and that she loved singing old songs and telling stories about plantation life and the Civil War days. She instilled in her children the value of education and the evils of racism.

We also learn that she was naturally artistic and that she never revealed her sufferings to the world at large. These are two traits that she passed on to Beauford.

Beauford captured his mother's likeness many times, from a 1922 watercolor that he created under Lloyd Branson's tutelage in Knoxville, to later portraits done from memory after Delia's passing in 1958.

I have posted images of two of these portraits on this blog several times over the years:

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

Portrait of Delia Delaney
(1933) Pastel on paper
Knoxville Museum of Art
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Another portrait of Delia is part of the private collection of painter Danny Simmons:

Portrait of the Artist’s Mother
(1930) Pencil, ink and watercolor on paper
© Estate of Beauford Delaney,
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

In Amazing Grace, biographer David Leeming describes Delia as being "the dominant force for stability" in Beauford's life. When she died, he wrote to his friend Larry Wallrich that he hoped to "gather [himself] together" and "use some of the heritage of endurance left me by her."

Happy Mother's Day from Les Amis de Beauford Delaney!

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Beauford and Larry Calcagno: The Letters

In August 2016, Wells International Foundation intern, Sojourner Ahébée, wrote a poignant article about the correspondence between Beauford and his dear friend, Larry Calcagno:

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

An Artistic Friendship:
Beauford Delaney and Lawrence Calcagno

Catalog cover for art exposition
Palmer Museum of Art (2001)

Calcagno's nephew, Tom Gibson, recently sent me copies of several letters kept at the Calcagno archive in Poughkeepsie, NY that were exchanged by these two men. In reading them, I felt the strong tug at my heartstrings that I did when I read Sojourner's description of the thoughts and feelings that Beauford and Calcagno shared.

Today, I'm sharing a few lines from an undated letter that Beauford wrote to Larry, which he likely penned in early 1970. Calcagno had recently undergone surgery.

Beauford opens with the following:

"Just received your wonderful letter [—] 'wonderful' because all of your letters are ...

"Your going to beautiful Porto [sic] Rico naturally restores your physical and creative sources and the rest among those wonderful people together with the marvelous ocean and Sun is where you should remain as long as you feel like letting nature, embrace you and all her magic will remake you free and happy living a great physical and creative life."

In this passage, the kinship between these soul mates is tangible.

Beauford goes on to talk of his recent visit to Knoxville to see his family and the work that occupied his life and sustained his morale after his return to Paris. He mentions the demolition of the Gare Montparnasse and its replacement by "an enormous Bldg 55 stories high."

Tour Montparnasse seen from Arc de Triomphe (2012)
Creative Commons License (Wikimedia Commons)
Author: Ввласенко

He acknowledges that changes in the city landscape are necessary but notes that "the ancient charm makes many of us nostalgie 'smile'."

He then addresses the subject of art and what it means to him and Calcagno:

"...I believe that all that we are now has always been and the exploration of working with our art and of course its also our way of life bringing to it as much of its inimgma [sic] is deathless and teaches us patience and courage ... I begin to believe that the various visions and dreams release themselves so we may be fecund and capable of creating sometimes that which is universal."

This letter, which is signed

"Love, Love, Love to you dear Larry and write when you can[.] be well and happy Beauford"

is but one of many in the Calcagno archive that sing with the deep love and respect that these two artists had for each other.

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

For more articles about Beauford and Larry Calcagno, click on the links below.

Beauford and Larry Calcagno

Larry Calcagno's Portrait of Beauford

Beauford in Spain

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Teaching Creativity and Science through Beauford's Abstract Expressionist Art - Part 2

In Part 1 of this article, I presented images of abstract works created by French and American students who are participating in Classes Duo Paris / Knoxville, the project that has been inspired by Beauford's life and art.

This week, I'm sharing additional images of works created by students at Jean Zay Elementary Public School in Paris. These were inspired by Beauford's abstract entitled Les Embruns:

Les Embruns
(1963) Mixed media on paper
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

While some students strove to model the forms and angles in Beauford's work,

Les Embruns-inspired work - 4
Oil pastel and watercolor on paper
Image courtesy of Jean Zay Elementary Public School

Les Embruns-inspired work - 1
Mixed oil / watercolor on paper
Image courtesy of Jean Zay Elementary Public School

others let their imaginations run free.

Les Embruns-inspired work - 1
Oil pastel and watercolor on paper
Image courtesy of Jean Zay Elementary Public School

Les Embruns-inspired work - 3
Mixed oil / watercolor on paper
Image courtesy of Jean Zay Elementary Public School

Jean Zay project leader, Juliette Blache, organized the painting session with the intent to have the students learn firsthand the different properties of oil-based and water-based paints and pigments and how the two behave when they are combined (solubility).

For certain works, they began by tracing lines and forms onto paper using oil-based crayons. They then painted over their lines with watercolors and saw how the oil repelled the colors, leaving white traces.

For other works, they stirred oil into watercolor and applied the resulting mixture onto paper.

To create the red, orange, and ochre works shown in last week's blog post, they stirred water into oil-based paint and used the resulting mixture.

Blache described the session as follows:

Exciting scientific experience for children … They had a lot of fun … And they love to paint abstracts more and more. They are finally daring to express their emotions through their paintbrushes!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Teaching Creativity and Science through Beauford's Abstract Expressionist Art - Part 1

As the Classes Duo Paris / Knoxville project unfolds, the student participants on both sides of the Atlantic are exercising their imaginations and learning about science as they create works inspired by Beauford's Abstract Expressionist works.

The Jean Zay students in Paris began their venture into abstraction with Beauford's Untitled (1961):

Untitled
(1961) Mixed media on paper
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

First, they decided to use red, orange, and ochre tones to create works made from a mixture of water-based and oil-based pigments. Here are a couple of examples of them:


Jean Zay mixed media on paper
Image courtesy of Jean Zay Elementary Public School

The fact that the students chose to use a color scheme different than the one Beauford chose allowed them to create spontaneously and to appreciate their work.

Later, they wanted to "copy" Untitled using blue and green hues similar to those in the original painting.


Jean Zay students creating watercolors on paper
Images courtesy of Jean Zay Elementary Public School

Many were frustrated with their inability to accurately reproduce Beauford's lines and colors. Project leader Juliette Blache encouraged them not to worry about making an exact replica and to "let themselves go" during this exercise, as they had done before. But some of the students remained unsatisfied with their results.

Meanwhile, across the ocean, the Nature's Way children selected Beauford's Greece (1967) as their inspiration:

Grèce
(1967) Oil on canvas
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

They created watercolors and oils based on their views of this painting.

Nature's Way Watercolor on paper by Meah
Image courtesy of Nature's Way Montessori School

Nature's Way oil on canvasboard by MaKenna
Image courtesy of Nature's Way Montessori School

Back in Paris, the Jean Zay kids selected another abstract to model. This time, it was Beauford's Les Embruns (1963):

Les Embruns
(1963) Mixed media on paper
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Next week, I'll present images of the art the students created based on this mixed media work as well as the science behind this creativity exercise.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Beauford's Playlist

Over the years, I've posted several articles about Beauford's love of music. He appreciated all kinds of music, from classical to gospel.

The children who participate in the Classes Duo Paris / Knoxville project are learning about Beauford's life as well as his art. As they begin to explore abstract painting, they are being inspired by the works shown in the 2016 Resonance of Form and Vibration of Color exhibition.

To further inspire them, I sent the Classes Duo educators YouTube links to several recordings of music that Beauford appreciated with the intent of having them share the songs with the students. One of the educators - Elise Brunet of the CASPE 6/14 office in Paris - was inspired to create a Beauford Delaney playlist on YouTube so the kids can listen to an uninterrupted medley of songs while they paint!

The selections are based on information found in the Beauford Delaney biography, Amazing Grace: A Life of Beauford Delaney. They include specific songs mentioned in the book, such as "I'm Glad Salvation is Free" and "Saturday Night Function," as well as other songs by artists that Beauford loved.

Mahalia Jackson - "I"m Glad Salvation is Free"
Screenshot from YouTube video

Listen to the playlist here: Beauford Delaney's Playlist.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Sold for $557,000! - Beauford's Village Street Scene

Beauford's Untitled (Village Street Scene) sold for $557,000 at Swann Auction Galleries' April 5 African American Fine Art sale.

Untitled (Village Street Scene)
(1948) Oil on canvas
737x1016 mm; 29x40 inches
Signed and dated in oil, lower left.
Image from Swann Auction Galleries Web site
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

The sale price includes a buyer's premium of 25%*. The hammer price of $460,000 far exceeded the estimated value of the painting ($150,000 - $250,000).

According to the Swann Auction Galleries' Web site, large canvases from Beauford's New York period are extremely scarce - this is only the second to come to auction in the past thirty years.

Nigel Freeman, director of the African-American Fine Art department at Swann, shared that the previous auction record for Beauford's work is $176,250 for Street Scene, a 1950 oil on canvas sold at Clarke Auction Gallery, Larchmont, NY, on October 27, 2008. This work is now called Untitled (Greene Street). See an image of the painting in the Les Amis blog post entitled "La Vie en Rose".

*At auction, there are two prices--the hammer price, or the price at which the item sells during the auction, and the price with the buyer's premium. All auction houses have a buyer's premium that the buyer pays to the auction house in addition to the hammer price. The buyer’s premium for items purchased directly through Swann is 25%. Swann Auction Galleries now reports the "hammer price" and the price that include the buyer's premium in its online catalog.

For more information, contact Nigel Freeman at
.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Beauford at Swann Auction Galleries' 5 April 2018 African American Fine Art Sale

A single, magnificent Beauford Delaney landscape painting is available for purchase at Swann Auction Galleries' April 5 African American Fine Art sale.

Untitled (Village Street Scene)
(1948) Oil on canvas
737x1016 mm; 29x40 inches
Signed and dated in oil, lower left.
Image from Swann Auction Galleries Web site
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Beauford lived at 181 Greene Street in Greenwich Village in 1948. Among his accomplishments that year were a solo exhibition at the Artists Gallery on 57th Street and being awarded second prize in the Village Art Center's annual competition for a portrait of James Baldwin. In November 1948, Baldwin would depart for Paris.

Beauford combined vibrant colors and geometric circles and angles to create this singular work. The almost inconspicuous shadow of a single, anonymous human provides the only sign of life in this cityscape.

According to the Swann Auction Galleries' Web site, large canvases from Beauford's New York period are extremely scarce - this is only the second to come to auction in the past thirty years.

The estimated value of Untitled (Village Street Scene) is $150,000 - $250,000.

The auction will take place at 2:30 PM on Thursday, April 5, 2018. Preview dates are as follows: March 31, 12-5 PM; April 2 to 4, 10-6 PM; April 5, 10-12 PM.

For more information, contact Nigel Freeman at
.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Beauford - "La Vie en Rose"

As I sat down to write this post and contemplated the approach of the 39th anniversary of Beauford's death (he passed away on March 26, 1979), I found myself thinking of his indomitable spirit and the myriad ways that he used color to express it.

For some reason, the Edith Piaf song, "La Vie en Rose," as recorded by Louis Armstrong popped into my head and I decided to look through images of Beauford's work to see how he used this color throughout the years. I share a few examples below.

Central Park
(1950) Oil on canvas
Image from Pomegranate Note Card
© Estate of Beauford Delaney,
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Untitled
(1958) Gouache on paper
25 1/2" x 19 5/8", 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 (Greene Street)
(1950) Oil on canvas
signed and dated lower left: B. Delaney. 1950
© Estate of Beauford Delaney,
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Untitled (Grape Motif)
(1946) Pastel on paper
© Estate of Beauford Delaney,
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Untitled
(1964) Oil on canvas
Collection of Elliot & Kimberly Perry
Image courtesy of Ashley Phifer
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Man in African Dress
(1972) Watercolor on Paper
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Charlie Parker Yardbird
(1958) Oil on canvas
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Gift of the James F. Dicke Family
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Beauford Viewed through the Eyes of Children

The Classes Duo Paris / Knoxville project that connects children at the Jean Zay Elementary Public School in Paris' 14th arrondissement with children at the Nature's Way Montessori School in Knoxville, Tennessee through Beauford's life and art continues to exceed expectations! The American kids are learning French, the French kids are learning English, and both groups are anticipating being able to meet face-to-face in the fall.

Between the video conference held on February 2 and the one held on March 9, the students created clay sculptures of Josephine Baker and her cheetah, Chiquita. These were inspired by the story about Beauford and his brother, Joseph, modeling red clay during their youth and the information presented about how Beauford admired Baker and followed her career.

Jean Zay sculptures of Josephine Baker
Image courtesy of Jean Zay Elementary School

Jean Zay sculptures of Josephine Baker
Image courtesy of Jean Zay Elementary School

The Knoxville students even glazed their sculptures.

Nature's Way sculptures of Josephine Baker and Chiquita
Image courtesy of Nature's Way Montessori School

Nature's Way sculptures in kiln
Image courtesy of Nature's Way Montessori School

During the March 9 videoconference, the children asked each other numerous personal questions, such as whether they have pets, whether they prefer painting to sculpting, what kinds of sports they play... Jean Zay kids had their questions written in English with French phonetics to help them pronounce their words properly.

Jean Zay sculptures of Josephine Baker
© Wells International Foundation

On the Knoxville side, the children told coordinator Mary Campbell what they wanted to say and she instructed them how to say it in French.

Nature's Way kids and coordinator Mary Campbell on screen
© Wells International Foundation

There was more talk of food as well, with kids sharing that they enjoy eating spaghetti and meatballs, samoussas, and apples, among other things.

The Jean Zay children sang two songs for the Knoxville kids: "J'ai Deux Amours" by Josephine Baker, and Ten Little Witches!

Announcement for Witches song
© Wells International Foundation

Children singing "Ten Little Witches"
© Wells International Foundation

Just before wrapping up this session, the Jean Zay kids shared their pastel portraits of Beauford, inspired by the self-portrait that graces the cover of the catalog for the Resonance of Form and Vibration of Color art exhibition.

Jean Zay student holding Resonance of Form catalog
© Wells International Foundation

Displaying Beauford Delaney Portraits for Nature's Way kids
© Wells International Foundation

Posing with Beauford Delaney Portraits
© Wells International Foundation

For more images of these portraits and the clay sculptures of Josephine and Chiquita, click on the links below:

Nature's Way - Working with Clay
Jean Zay - Working with Clay
9 March 2018 Session
Beauford Delaney Portraits

And continue to watch this blog for updates on the project!