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, September 29, 2018

Beauford and France's Modern Art Museum

From his first days in Paris, Beauford found artistic inspiration at the Musée National d'Art Moderne - France's modern art museum.

He first visited the museum in Autumn 1953, when he saw a memorial show of Raoul Dufy's work.

Detail of poster advertising Raoul Dufy exhibition

One of his first exhibitions was held at the museum during the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles, a major, annual exhibition of abstract art that was established in 1947 and hosted by the museum through 1969. Beauford contributed works to the Salons held in 1954, 1960, and 1963.

Additionally, Beauford saw the Joan Miró exhibition at the museum in 1962

Cover of Joan Miró e-book from
June - November 1962 exhibition at
Musée National d'Art Moderne
Screenshot from Dailymotion video

and took a course on modern art featuring Braque, Picasso, and Vlaminck there in 1967.

During this time, the Musée d'Art Moderne was located in the west wing of what is now called the Palais de Tokyo on avenue du Président Wilson in the 16th arrondissement. The City of Paris has had its own Musée d'Art Moderne, which is located in the east wing of this building, since 1961.

Palais de Tokyo
Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
(view from Avenue de New York)
Creative Commons Attribution

The national museum moved to the Pompidou Center in 1977, leaving the west wing of the Palais de Tokyo to be occupied by multiple inhabitants over the decades. It now houses a contemporary art center.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Historical Marker Honors Beauford and Joseph Delaney in Knoxville

Ever since the "Knoxville Eleven" came to Paris for the Resonance of Form and Vibration of Color exhibition in 2016 and saw the plaques that honor Beauford at two locations in Montparnasse, they have been on a mission to inspire the City of Knoxville to honor its native son in a similar fashion.

They have succeeded!

"Knoxville Eleven" on the Beauford Delaney
Commemorative Walking Tour in Paris
(2016) © Discover Paris!

In 2017, the Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection at the East Tennessee Historical Center submitted a proposal to the State of Tennessee requesting the marker. The request was approved during the fall and work began on the marker's construction. Once completed, it was installed on Summit Hill Drive close to the location of the Delaney homestead during the month of August 2018.

On Thursday, September 13, 2018, the 114th anniversary of Joseph Delaney's birth, the double-sided marker was unveiled.

The text for Beauford's side of the marker reads as follows:

1901 – 1979

Beauford Delaney is considered one of the
greatest abstract painters of the 20th century.
Battling poverty, racial prejudice and mental
illness, he achieved acclaim for his expressive
portraits, cityscapes and abstractions.
An African American artist, Beauford was one
of 10 children born to the Rev. John Samuel
and Delia Elizabeth Johnson Delaney at
815 East Vine Avenue near this site. He spent
most of his life in New York City and Paris, France,
forming lifelong friendships with writers James Baldwin,
Henry Miller, and other luminaries. Beauford Delaney
is buried in Cimetière Parisien de Thiais.

Beauford Delaney marker
Image courtesy of the Knoxville Museum of Art

The text for Joseph's side reads as follows:

1904 – 1991

Born near this site, Joseph Delaney, an African American
artist like his older brother Beauford, studied under
local artist Lloyd Branson. In 1930, Joseph began his
studies in New York at the Art Students League. He spent
the next 56 years painting portraits and scenes of urban
life in lower Manhattan. In 1986, he returned to Knoxville
and served as artist-in-residence at University of Tennessee
until his death in 1991. His works are in the collection of
the Smithsonian American Art Museum and other major museums.
Joseph Delaney is buried in Knoxville's Greenwood Cemetery.

Joseph Delaney marker
Image courtesy of the Knoxville Museum of Art

Speakers at the dedication ceremony included Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, Knoxville Museum of Art trustee Sylvia Peters of the Gathering Light Delaney Project, and Reverend Renee Kesler of the Beck Cultural Center.

Unveiling ceremony for Beauford and Joseph Delaney marker
Image courtesy of the Knoxville Museum of Art

The Knoxville Law Enforcement Credit Union at 501 E Summit Hill Dr. offered light refreshments in the lobby after the dedication.

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.