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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, Blackburn, 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.