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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

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