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!

(All or part of your gift through WIF may qualify as a charitable deductible in the U.S.)

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Joseph Delaney in Paris

In the current exhibition of Joseph Delaney works at the Knoxville Museum of Art (KMA), Joseph Delaney: On the Move, there is a sketch of the Eiffel Tower that Joseph did when he came to visit Beauford in June 1976.

Joseph Delaney (Knoxville 1904-1991 Knoxville)
Sketchbook drawing of Paris, 1976
Ink on paper
Courtesy Ewing Gallery of Art and Architecture, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Reproduced with permission of the Estate of Joseph Delaney,
Mark K. Williams, Administrator C.T.A.
Photo courtesy of Dawn Kunkel*

By this time, Beauford was living at Sainte-Anne's Hospital. Beauford's biographer, David Leeming has the following to say about Joseph's visit:

Joseph Delaney came to Paris in the summer of 1976 as the family's representative, presumably to take charge of his brother, perhaps even to take him home. Apparently, however, finding that Beauford was without memory but at least comfortable, he decided to leave matters in the hands of Baldwin and the court-appointed trusteeship.

Joseph had visited Beauford in Paris once before, in 1969. He spent three weeks in the City of Light and the brothers enjoyed strolling the streets together. According to Leeming:

They explored the bookstores and galleries, talked of the past and of their work, and went to jazz clubs and the opera.

Joseph returned to Paris in 1979 to attend his brother's funeral.

KMA has included the following sketch of the Louvre that he did during that visit.

Joseph Delaney (Knoxville 1904-1991 Knoxville)
Sketchbook drawing of Paris, 1979
Ballpoint pen on paper
Courtesy Ewing Gallery of Art and Architecture, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Reproduced with permission of the Estate of Joseph Delaney,
Mark K. Williams, Administrator C.T.A.
Photo courtesy of the Knoxville Museum of Art

Stephen C. Wicks, Barbara W. and Bernard E. Bernstein Curator at KMA, states that he included this drawing in Joseph Delaney: On the Move "in order to underscore Joe’s concern for Beauford and his key role in helping to get Beauford’s belongings back to the U.S. after his death."

Image of a portrait of Joseph Delaney
by Beauford Delaney
in Amazing Grace: A Life of Beauford Delaney
by David A. Leeming

*Dawn Kunkel is an art teacher at Nature's Way Montessori School in Knoxville, Tennessee. She will accompany the Knoxville students who are coming to Paris as part of the Classes Duo Paris / Knoxville program.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Countdown to Classes Duo Paris / Knoxville Cultural Exchange in Paris

In less than four weeks, the students from Nature's Way Montessori School who are participating in the Classes Duo Paris / Knoxville video cultural exchange program will make their way to Paris to meet their French video pals.

Since December 2017, I have periodically reported on the unfolding of this groundbreaking project, which unites elementary school children from Nature's Way in Knoxville, TN and Jean Zay Elementary School in Paris, France through Beauford's life and art.

Nature's Way students as seen on video by Jean Zay students
© Wells International Foundation

Participants from both schools are 7-10 years old.

Through seven (7) video conferences held over the course of Spring Semester 2018, the children got to know each other by asking each other questions about their families, hobbies, and daily routines. With assistance from the program facilitators, including the use of phonetic spelling, the French children asked their questions in English and the American children asked theirs in French.

Phonetic spelling for an English-language question
asked by a Jean Zay student
© Wells International Foundation

Between sessions, the students participated in art lessons that included the exploration of science and social studies topics in addition to several aspects of Beauford's life in Knoxville and in Paris. They showed their paintings, drawings, and clay sculptures during the video sessions.

Nature's Way student shows Beauford's Untitled (Trees)(right)
and his copy of the work (left)
© Wells International Foundation

Jean Zay students show their Beauford Delaney portraits
© Wells International Foundation

At the end of the semester, the children from both schools were asked to express their thoughts about the program in individual video interviews. All of the Knoxville children gave their interviews in French!

Jean Zay video interviews
Nature's Way video interviews

Now, excitement is mounting as the Nature's Way kids and their families prepare for their trip and the Jean Zay kids, their families, and their school prepare to receive the Tennesseans. In anticipation, the students are copying Beauford's portraits of three of his favorite musicians - Charlie Parker, Ella Fitzgerald, and Marian Anderson.

Charlie Parker
(1968) Oil on canvas
Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester
Photograph by Joshua Nefsky; Courtesy of
Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Nature's Way student's copy of Beauford's Charlie Parker
Image courtesy of Nature's Way Montessori School

The visit will take place from October 5-13, 2018. Among the activities planned are a public art exhibition of the students work, a sleep-over for the Knoxville children with Parisian families, and an excursion to the Pompidou Center and the nearby Galerie Intemporel to see Beauford Delaney works.

After the trip, video conferences will continue to be organized for the students through the end of Spring Semester 2019.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

September 1953 - Beauford Arrives in Paris

Beauford arrived in Paris in early September 1953. His first steps on the ground in the French capital were at the Gare Saint Lazare.

Gare Saint Lazare (1951)
SNCF Open Archives

He had traveled to France on the SS Liberté, in the company of fellow artist, Herbert Gentry. But he somehow lost sight of Gentry upon docking and took the train to Paris alone.

As was typical of Beauford when he traveled, he was disoriented and frightened by the time the train pulled into Saint Lazare station.

According to Beauford's biographer, David Leeming, just as Beauford began to feel panicky, he was approached by two friends from New York - Robert Blackburn and Oliver Harrington.

Blackburn, a printmaker, was in Paris because he had received the John Hay Whitney Fellowship to work at the renowned Atelier Desjobert (a lithograph print shop) in 1953–1954.

Harrington, a cartoonist and journalist, had been in Paris since 1951. He left the United States to avoid being investigated by the House Un-American Activities Committee as a suspected Communist. He was the creator of the famous comic character, Bootsie.

Left: Beauford Delaney by Carl Van Vechten (1953)
Right: from top to bottom - Ollie Harrington (1954), Herb Gentry (1950), and Bob Blackburn (1951)*

Gentry, who was returning to Paris after having spent two years in New York, found the three men on the platform. He, Blackbun, and Harrington all accompanied Beauford to a hotel on boulevard Raspail in Montparnasse.

The following day, Beauford moved from that hotel (name unknown) to the Hôtel Odessa, which is where Les Amis de Beauford Delaney had a commemorative plaque installed in his honor in 2015.

*Fair use claimed for images at right of collage.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

August 1964 - Beauford's Family Visits Paris

Beauford's brother Emery, sister-in-law Gertrude, and niece Imogene visited Beauford in Paris in August 1964.

From Amazing Grace: A Life of Beauford Delaney:

On the first Sunday Emery and Beauford went alone to mass at Notre Dame ... during the day there was time to sightsee ... as well as time for Beauford to do sketches for portraits of all three loved ones along with a self-portrait, his greatest of many, that would be finished in 1965.

The biography gives no further details about what the family may have seen during its sightseeing forays.

For those who do not know Paris, here are some present day images of major landmarks and monuments that Emery, Gertrude, and Imogene likely saw during their stay:

The Eiffel Tower, viewed from boulevard Pasteur (very near the location of Beauford's rue Vercingétorix studio)

Eiffel Tower viewed from boulevard Pasteur
© Discover Paris!

Palais Garnier, Paris' opera house during Beauford's Paris years

Palais Garnier
© Discover Paris!

The Louvre, viewed from the Musée d'Orsay

© Discover Paris!

Sacré Coeur Basilica, Montmartre

Sacré Coeur
© Discover Paris!

Place de la Concorde

Place de la Concorde
© Discover Paris!

And here is an image of the self-portrait that Beauford began during their visit:

(1965) Oil on canvas
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

It is currently held by the Whitney Museum of American Art. The portrait was featured during the exhibition Human Interest: Portraits from the Whitney's Collection that was shown from
April 27, 2016 through February 12, 2017.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Black in Appalachia: Beauford Delaney

As a non-profit, viewer-supported television station and PBS member station, East Tennessee PBS provides lifelong learning opportunities to more than 1 million viewers in East Tennessee, Southern Kentucky, Southeast Virginia and Western North Carolina. Through its Blacks in Appalachia project, it is working to research, archive and raise the visibility of the region’s African-American history and contributions.

William Isom II, East Tennessee PBS' Director of Community Outreach, interviewed me several months ago as part of his research for a video documentary about Beauford. The final product, a 6m29s video, is beautifully done!

View it here:

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Sainte Anne's Hospital: An Oasis of Calm

Last Saturday, I visited Sainte-Anne Hospital after catching up with a long-time friend at the nearby Marriott Rive Gauche hotel.

(For those who may not know, Sainte-Anne's is where Beauford spent the last four years of his life.)

It was a hot and breezy day and I planned to do a quick walk through to see how the renovation of the facility and landscape is progressing.

As I made my way down the main "thoroughfare" - the Allée Paul Verlaine - I felt as though I had been transported out of the city of Paris and into an idyllic little hamlet.

Allée Paul Verlaine
© Discover Paris!

There was absolutely no traffic noise and very few people were moving about on the immaculate grounds, which are vibrant with flowers and greenery. It was an oasis of calm.

Central Pharmacy and Maurice Ravel courtyard
© Discover Paris!

Galerie Maurice Utrillo
© Discover Paris!

Lawn and flower beds flanking Allée Camille Claudel
© Discover Paris!

© Discover Paris!

I no longer felt the urge to move quickly.

I discovered that the exterior of the Benjamin Ball pavilion has been completely cleaned. It is one of the buildings in the area where Beauford's room was located.

Pavillon Benjamin Ball
© Discover Paris!

I also discovered a vegetable garden behind another pavilion in this same area. Beautiful squashes are growing there!

Squashes in vegetable garden
© Discover Paris!

To my delight, I found several portraits from the Saint Anne Museum of Art and History displayed on a stone wall.

Galerie des Portraits - MAHHSA
© Discover Paris!

I learned that Sainte-Anne's has an archive that the general public can access. I plan to return to see what I can learn about how the facility was laid out during Beauford's stay.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Beauford Enters the Carnetta and Norm Davis Collection

Carnetta and Norm Davis placed the winning bid for the Beauford Delaney pastel entitled Portrait of a Young Man during the Case Antiques auction house on July 14.

Carnetta Davis graciously granted Les Amis the following interview about this latest acquisition.

Carnetta Davis and Portrait of a Young Man
Image courtesy of Carnetta Davis

Portrait of a Young Man
(1938) Pastel on paper
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Les Amis: Why are you so passionate about collecting art?

C. D.: After learning of the struggles of the early African-American artists to be recognized equally with their peers of other races, my husband Norm and I decided in our own way to try to help forgotten and underappreciated artists, mostly due to discrimination, receive long overdue recognition. We welcome people into our home and loan works to museums and galleries to help educate the public on this genre of work. We also desire to call attention to the works of living African American artists whose past experiences are unique and helped to define their unique brand of American Art.

Les Amis: How long have you been collecting?

C. D.: My husband, Norm and I have always collected, but not always art. About fourteen (14) years ago, we shifted our focus to art by African American artists.

Les Amis: Do you have a selection process for the pieces you collect?

C. D.: Yes. We have an ever-changing list of artists that we are interested in collecting. Recently we have specifically focused on artists who were educators and artists from Alabama and the South, but we have significant artists from all over the United States in our collection.

Les Amis: What makes your collection distinctive?

C. D.: The collection includes more than 150 works of African-American art, spanning the 19th to the 21st centuries and with this collection, we attempt to show the evolution of African American Art. We also collect works by artists who at one time were significant when living but are currently off the radar. We also have works in our collection that are not by African Americans or American artists but are simply items that we were drawn to or inherited from family members.

Carnetta Davis with Portrait of a Young Man and
other pieces from the Davis Collection
Image courtesy of Carnetta Davis

Les Amis: What about Beauford Delaney's art is appealing to you?

C. D.: In addition to pleasing aesthetics, I enjoy art that tells stories. I love the fact that if you examine his works over the years and study his life story, you can distinctively see how his work evolved. His use of color is especially appealing.

Les Amis: Why is it important to you to have his work in your collection?

C. D.: Beauford Delaney seemed to be a free spirit who did not conform to what was expected of African American artists of the times. He learned and grew from experiences shared with people from a very wide range of ethnicities and cultures. He followed his dreams and relocated to Paris. This fluidity of his spirit shows in his work over time. His story is just as significant as his art.

Les Amis: Does the fact that Beauford is from the South play a role in your interest in his art?

C. D.: Most definitely. As a daughter of the South, born and reared in Birmingham, Alabama, I feel a connection to other Southerners who create and appreciate art.

Les Amis: Do you have a preference for his abstract or figurative works?

C. D.: I prefer his abstract works but Portrait of a Young Man, a figurative expressionism work, speaks to me. Characteristics of this work provide insight on the direction his work would take.

Les Amis: What attracted you to Portrait of a Young Man?

C. D.: It fits perfectly into our collecting “sweet spot”. It is an early work (1938) that is unlike anything we own. It helps tell the story and illustrate how his work evolved. In 1938, Delaney was photographed painting in Washington Square in New York City by Life magazine. This work could have been painted by him there.

Les Amis: Does this piece tell a story to you?

C. D.: I have the desire to want to know more about how the young man came to be a subject for this painting.

Les Amis: Do you have other Beauford Delaney works?

C. D.: No, but I would like to acquire others, especially one of his abstracts. We have two (2) paintings by his brother, Joseph Delaney.

Les Amis: Do you have any comments to add?

C. D.: I am happy the planets aligned, and we were able to add this work to our collection. We look forward to sharing it along with what we have learned about Beauford Delaney and his work with others.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Beauford and the James Baldwin Writers' Colony in Paris

The James Baldwin Writers' Colony is a Global Pathways study abroad program offered by Emerson College at its Kasteel Well facility in the Netherlands.

Running from July 5 - August 2, the course description invites participating students to "write, workshop and revise short works of creative fiction and nonfiction inspired by the literature of African Americans who lived and work in Europe." It further indicates that "Excursions to Amsterdam and Paris, France will enable you to walk in the footsteps of literary giants such as James Baldwin, Richard Wright and Chester Himes.

The Paris excursion included a luncheon at the Café Select. Program Cultural Architect Charles Reese invited me to share in this meal and talk about the relationship between Beauford and James Baldwin. He also asked me to explain the significance of the café in their lives.

Café Select
© Discover Paris!

James Baldwin Writer's Colony at the Café Select
© Discover Paris!

Serendipitously, the group was seated in the same space where Les Amis celebrated the first anniversary of the laying of Beauford's tombstone at Thiais Cemetery.

Monique addressing the crowd at 1st anniversary celebration
© Discover Paris!

The luncheon meeting was sandwiched between a black Paris history tour given by Julia Browne of Walking the Spirit tours and an encounter at the U.S. Embassy.

I spoke about the first encounter between Beauford and Baldwin in NYC, how Beauford became a mentor for Baldwin during his formative years, and how the "tables turned" when Beauford moved to Paris and became part of Baldwin's entourage. Baldwin felt increasingly responsible for Beauford as Beauford suffered bouts of physical and mental illness, and was eventually named as part of the tutelle (trusteeship) that managed Beauford's affairs when he was committed to the Hôpital Sainte-Anne in 1975.

I also spoke about the Select as one of Beauford's last favorite hangouts in Montparnasse and how the café figures into Baldwin's novel, Giovanni's Room.

Dr. Anthony Pinder, Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs, Internationalization, & Global Engagement, was one of the professors on the excursion. He opened the floor to questions with one of his own about how, as travel professionals who specialize in black Paris history, Browne and I determine the "truth" of what we present to our audiences and how we decide to present information so that it is best received by audiences with different levels of understanding regarding this information. This sparked a lively discussion!

Browne passed a couple of images around - one of Beauford, James Baldwin, and Wilmer Baldwin at the American Cultural Center and one of a painting that Beauford created during his New York years.

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

The conversation then turned to how Beauford's work is valued and whether his estate is benefiting from the use of his work for commercial purposes.

My part of the event ended with me taking photos with Reese, Browne, and Dr. Pinder.

From left to right:
Charles Reese, Monique Y. Wells, and Dr. Anthony Pinder
© Discover Paris!

Julia Browne and Monique Y. Wells
© Discover Paris!

It is always my privilege and pleasure to share information about Beauford's life and art with study abroad students!

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Portrait of a Young Man Sold at Case Antiques Auction

Case Antiques in Knoxville, TN sold Beauford's pastel on paper work entitled Portrait of a Young Man on July 14.

Portrait of a Young Man
(1938) Pastel on paper
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

The sale price was $3,172, including the buyer's premium.

Len de Rohan, Appraiser for Case's Knoxville Consignment, Research, and Cataloging team, granted me an interview after the sale. She shared that Case has sold eleven (11) lots of Beauford's work since 2015, including Portrait of a Young Man. To find images and information about these works, click HERE.

De Rohan said that John Case, Co-owner and President of Case Antiques, believes that 30% of the buyers of Beauford's work are Tennessee residents, including institutions; 20% more are Southern; and the balance are from the metropolitan areas of NYC and Chicago. The largest amount of consignments come from the Delaney estate.

Because Beauford is a Knoxville native and a very important Tennessee and American artist, and because the Knoxville Museum of Art has accumulated the largest public collection of Beauford's works, Case, as the premier auction house in Tennessee, is making efforts to be known for selling Beauford's works. They pride themselves on their relationship with Beauford's estate as well as with public institutions and private collectors.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Beauford's Portrait of a Young Man at Case Antiques Auction

A lovely Beauford Delaney portrait is being auctioned by Case Antiques in Knoxville, TN on July 14.

Portrait of a Young Man
Pastel on paper
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

The portrait is dated 1938:

Portrait of a Young Man - signature
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

During that year, Beauford had one-man shows at the 8th Street Playhouse in NYC and the Gallery C in Washington, D.C., which, according to the biography Amazing Grace: A Life of Beauford Delaney, consisted primarily of portraits.

The famous Life Magazine photo of Beauford at the 1938 Washington Square outdoor show in NYC portrays him sitting in front of several portraits.

Beauford at Washington Square Outdoor Show - 1938
Image from Life Magazine
Photographer not identified in photo caption*

Perhaps Beauford created Portrait of a Young Man for one of these events.

The pastel portrait is being auctioned as Lot Number 574. The low estimate for acquisition is $5,000.00. The high estimate is $7,000.00.

For more information about the sale, visit the Case Antiques Web page for the July 14 Auction.

*Fair use claimed for the reprinting of this image.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Beauford Potpourri

By receiving Google Alerts about Beauford and messages from persons interested in his life and work, I am able to collect tidbits of information and references to him that add to the growing data base about him. Below are links to some of these references.

The Ubuntu Biography Project - Beauford Delaney

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

The Ubuntu Biography Project was created by Stephen A. Maglott (1953-2016) to publish biographical tributes to distinguished LGBTQ/SGL people of color/African descent.

Les Amis De Beauford Delaney: Beauford's Paris: Saint Anne's Throughout Paris Benches

This Web page displays a large image of two women sitting on a bench at Saint Anne's Hospital, the place where Beauford spent the last four years of his life.

Beauford Delaney Timeline

David Wright, an undergraduate student at the University of Tennessee Knoxville who won a Paul Pinckney Award from UTK's Department of History this April, has created a timeline of Beauford's life. It includes multiple images of Beauford's work and even mentions the Les Amis blog!

Beauford Delaney and Ted Joans

Art historian and curator Karima Boudou has written a fascinating article about poet / artist Ted Joans and Beauford. It includes a beautiful photo of Joans and a fragile-appearing Beauford in Beauford's rue Vercingétorix studio, taken in 1975.

AZ Quotes

AZ Quotes has created an infographic using a Beauford Delaney quote and one of Beauford's self-portraits*.

The pastel, watercolor, and charcoal on paper self-portrait was painted at Yaddo in 1950.

*Self-portrait, Yaddo
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

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.

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

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

(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.