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, March 16, 2019

A Musical Interlude

Beauford loved and had quite an eclectic taste for music.

In a letter that Beauford wrote to his friend Al Hirschfeld in 1940, he talks about painting while listening to Billie Holiday and he recommends other recordings that he thinks his friend will benefit from having. One of these is "She's a Trucking Little Baby" by Blind Boy Fuller.

I had not heard of this artist before and looked up the song. Here it is for your enjoyment!


Saturday, March 9, 2019

Beauford in the "Four Sunday Painters" Exhibition at the Whitney Studio Galleries

Several years ago, I published an article about how Beauford came to show works at the Whitney Studio Galleries soon after he arrived in New York. I've recently learned more about this and am sharing the information below.

The show was entitled Exhibition by four Sunday painters : Arthur E. Cederquist, Beauford Delaney, Prosper Invernizzi, Kalman Oswald.

Cover for exhibition checklist
Source: Digital Culture of Metropolitan New York
Fair use

Beauford contributed twelve of the 40 works displayed in the exhibition, which ran from February 26-March 8, 1930. They are listed in the center panel of the image below.

Exhibition checklist
Source: Digital Culture of Metropolitan New York
Fair use

Juliana Force, director of purchasing and exhibition at the Whitney, bought two of Beauford's pastels on the first day of the show: Girl in Yellow Dress and Profile of Boy. She paid $25 for each work. (In today's dollars, she would have paid ~$730 per pastel.)

Shipping receipt for Juliana Force purchase
Source: Digital Culture of Metropolitan New York
Fair use

By the end of the show, all but two pastels were sold.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Christie's Sells Beauford's Abstraction No. 4

Beauford's Abstraction No. 4 was auctioned by Christie's New York during its Post-War to Present sale on February 28.

Abstraction No. 4
(ca. 1965) Oil on canvas
51 x 38 1/8 in. (129.5 x 96.8 cm.)
signed 'Beauford Delaney' (upper right)
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

The seller acquired the painting from Beauford's brother, Joseph, who acquired it from Beauford.

Abstraction No. 4's estimated sale price was $100,000 to $150,000. It sold for $387,000, including a buyer's premium of 20%.

For more information about the Post-War to Present sale, click HERE.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Beauford at Christie's New York

A beautiful yellow abstract by Beauford is being auctioned by Christie's New York during its Post-War to Present sale on February 28.

Abstraction No. 4
(ca. 1965) Oil on canvas
51 x 38 1/8 in. (129.5 x 96.8 cm.)
signed 'Beauford Delaney' (upper right)
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

The date given for the painting is circa 1965. In November of that year, Beauford wrote the following to his dear friend, Henry Miller:

"Something has happened to my color and the paintings seem to have sunlight and the feeling sometimes of all you wonderful people it has been my privilege to have as friends and architects of the spirit."

Abstraction No. 4 seems to embody this spirit. It is listed as Lot 3 in the Christie's catalog and its estimated sale price is $100,000 to $150,000.

For more information about the sale, click HERE.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Beauford in Ink

From what I've seen over the years, Beauford rarely used ink when he created colored abstract works on paper. Because of a recent inquiry regarding the sale of one of his paintings from Darthea Speyer's collection at Christie's in Paris in 2010, I was reminded of this beautiful work on paper, which was sold at the same auction.

Untitled
(1961) Ink, inkwash, and aquarelle on paper
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Beauford signed and dated this work and dedicated it as follows:

"Mallorca 1961 for miss Darthea Speyer"

Beauford traveled to San Telmo in Mallorca in late August 1961 with Charley and Gita Boggs; their son, Gordon, and Joe and Bernice O'Reilly. The Boggses were dear, long-time friends who had sent out a plea for funds to pay for Beauford's medical expenses after his mental breakdown in Greece the month before. They took responsibility for him upon his return to France while they and other friends sought a solution for his precarious physical and mental state. Beauford had traveled to Greece to meet Darthea Speyer; it was she who organized his medical care in Greece and his return to France.

From biographer David Leeming's account of this trip in Amazing Grace, we know that Beauford was soothed by the company of Gita and Bernice and that he "even began to do some watercolors."

In this work, the brilliant yellow background is overlaid by wide, irregular, sinuous bands of black with smudged to feathery edges, some of which are tinged with blue and / or outlined in white. These latter areas almost seem electric. Perhaps we can interpret the black bands as the darkness that permeated his spirit during these difficult days and the "electric" zones as sparks of hope that he would once again feel whole and happy in the light represented by the yellow backdrop.

The only other colored ink abstract work that I recall seeing was shown in the 2016 Resonance of Form and Vibration of Color exhibition in Paris.

Untitled
(1956) Inks on paper
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

1956 was the first year Beauford stayed in Clamart. Richard A. Long, who organized the first retrospective of Beauford’s work at the Studio Museum of Harlem in 1978, described works from this period as being characterized “either by a somber palette or by the sheer power of clashing color masses”.

Here, we are clearly in the realm of the latter. The red mass in the center of the paper projects boldly upward at a slight angle, while the tortuous, underlying black mass leads the eye downward in opposition. The red mass seems rigid and inanimate, while the black seems fluid, even serpentine, with the head of the coiled snake poised to strike.

Swaths of lighter color soften the work while simultaneously enhancing the contrast between its two main thrusts of energy, each of which represents power in a different form.






Saturday, February 9, 2019

Beauford in God Made My Face: A Collective Portrait of James Baldwin

Dark Rapture is the first portrait that Beauford painted of James Baldwin.

Dark Rapture
(1941) Oil on masonite
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

It is one of three featured works of art by Beauford in the exhibition entitled God Made My Face: A Collective Portrait of James Baldwin, curated by writer Hilton Als and showing at the David Zwirner Gallery in New York. New York Times writer Holland Cotter describes Dark Rapture as the centerpiece of the show.

God Made My Face - Dark Rapture
Image courtesy of David Zwirner Gallery


God Made My Face
is Als' piercingly personal look at Baldwin's life and work. The first, autobiographical section of the two-part show, called "The Walker in the City," presents Baldwin in New York and Paris. Visitors will find it in the 525 Gallery. This is the section in which Beauford's paintings are hung.

Rehearsal, a 1952 figurative painting, hangs next to a photo of Baldwin's stepfather, David Baldwin (who was a preacher).

Beauford's Rehearsal and photo of David Baldwin
Image courtesy of David Zwirner Gallery

An untitled Beauford Delaney abstract from 1963 hangs next to two black & white photos of 1900s Paris by Eugène Atget.

Beauford's Untitled and Atget photos
Image courtesy of David Zwirner Gallery

Other artists whose works appear in the show include Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, Sedat Pakay, Glenn Ligon, and Kara Walker. One of these artists, Marlene Dumas, contributed a series of fourteen portraits called Baldwin and, 2014-2018 to the show - including one of Baldwin and one of Beauford. Beauford's portrait hangs at the far left of the series.

Marlene Dumas series
Image courtesy of David Zwirner Gallery

Beauford Delaney, 2018
Marlene Dumas
Ink, graphite, and metallic acrylic on paper
DUMMA0818P1
Image courtesy of David Zwirner Gallery

In an article published in The New Yorker, Als describes Beauford as Baldwin's "other father, a gay father." He is planning to curate a show of Beauford's work later this year.


God Made My Face
is on display through February 16, 2019.


David Zwirner Gallery
525 and 533 West 19th Street
New York, NY 10011
Telephone: 212-727-2070

*************

Listen to this interview with Hilton Als about God Made My Face. From 5:06 to 10:22, Als and interviewer Savona Bailey-McClain talk about Beauford and James Baldwin.


Saturday, February 2, 2019

Happy Birthday, Delia Delaney!

Beauford's mother, Delia Elizabeth Johnson Delaney, was born in Richmond, Virginia on February 1, 1865.

In the Joseph Delaney biography The Life, Art, and Times of Joseph Delaney, author Frederick C. Moffatt describes her as "the family's emotional anchor and its stealthy exhorter." Beauford's biographer, David Leeming, describes her as "the much deferred-to matriarch of the Delaney household."

The portrait of Delia Delaney represented below is my favorite of the ones I have seen by Beauford.

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

It would be interesting to know whether Delia actually sat for any of the portraits Beauford did of her!

Photo of the Delaney Family, 1909
Top, left to right: Samuel Emery, John Samuel, Delia
Bottom, left to right: Joseph, Ogust Mae, Beauford, Naomi
Photo from du Closel archive
Image © Discover Paris!


Saturday, January 26, 2019

Beauford and Bob Thompson at the Minneapolis Institute of Art


The Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) is taking full advantage of a long term loan of the Myron Kunin Collection of American Art*. Robert Cozzolino, Mia's Patrick and Aimee Butler Curator of Paintings, shared information about Kunin Collection Focus: Bob Thompson, the most recent installation that explores the strengths and character of Kunin's collector's eye.

Entry to Kunin Collection Focus: Bob Thompson
Image courtesy of Minneapolis Institute of Art

Kunin collected several works by Bob Thompson, a painter who, like Beauford, spent time in New York and Paris. Both artists worked in the Abstract Expressionist style. They participated in a group show along with fellow artist Abe Rattner at the American Artists' Center in Paris in 1962. In a scholarly article published in Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art (1999), author Geoffrey Jacques says the following about Thompson:

"His sense of color and his way of applying paint may have had their roots in art history (I find echoes of Matisse, and, to some extent, Beauford Delaney)..."

Cozzolino thought it would be good to give Mia visitors a chance to view these paintings and created the exhibition to coincide with Black History Month tours that the museum is hosting in February. It consists of 15 works - nine by Thompson, four by Beauford, one by Jan Müller (a New York-based expressionist artist whose work Thompson appreciated), and one by Baroque painter Johann Georg Platzer (Thompson frequently reinterpreted works by Baroque and Renaissance masters). By including Beauford's paintings in the show, Cozzolino aims to have viewers compare and contract his work with that of Thompson.

Mia owns four Beauford Delaney paintings, two of which are on display in the current exhibition. One of these is the famous raincoat painting from Beauford's early Paris years; the other is an untitled oil on masonite painting from his New York years. The untitled painting is hung next to Thompson's oil on canvas entitled The Wind.

Untitled (oil on masonite) by Beauford Delaney (far right);
The Wind by Bob Thompson (center)
Image courtesy of Minneapolis Institute of Art

Untitled
(1947) Oil on masonite
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

The raincoat painting is displayed alone, mounted on a plinth in the center of the room. Jazz Quartet and Untitled (Washington Square Park), both of which are on loan to the museum, are hung next to each other on one wall of the exhibition. Untitled (Washington Square Park) is part of the Kunin Collection.

Untitled (raincoat painting)(center);
Untitled (Washington Square Park) and Jazz Quartet (far right)
Image courtesy of Minneapolis Institute of Art

Untitled (Washington Square Park)
(1952) Oil on canvas
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Jazz Quartet
(1946) Oil on canvas
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Mia's sole Bob Thompson painting - Homage to Nina Simone is the focal piece of the exhibition. The remainder of the Thompson paintings on display are from the Kunin Collection.

Kunin Collection Focus: Bob Thompson is located in room G275 at Mia. It is scheduled to run through March 24, 2019. Entry to the museum is free.

Kunin Collection Focus: Bob Thompson
November 3, 2018 - March 24, 2019
Minneapolis Institute of Art
2400 Third Avenue South
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404
Telephone: (888)642-2787 (Toll Free)
Internet: visit@artsmia.org

*Over the span of four decades, Myron Kunin assembled one of the most important private collections of American paintings from the first half of the 20th century. On extended loan to Mia from the Kunin family, the 396 paintings, 64 prints and drawings, 21 sculptures, and 77 photographs comprise one of the foremost collections of American modern art in private hands.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Buyer Beware: Authenticating Your Purchase of Beauford's Art

A recently published article in ArtForum entitled "Dealers Say Counterfeit Artworks by African American Artists Are on the Rise" opens with the following statement:

"As African American artists have done increasingly well in the art market, shattering auction records and creating a surge in demand, there has been a corresponding growth in the number of forgeries attributed to African American artists, from Alma Thomas to Charles White."

This statement applies to Beauford's art. Last year, sale prices of his work at several auctions far exceeded expectations. An example is Swann Auction Galleries' sale of Untitled (Village Street Scene) for $557,000 (including buyer's premium), when the estimated sale price was $150,000 to $250,000.

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

At the same time, there were many occasions when I wanted to publish an article about one or more works being offered at auction and permission to publish was denied by the Beauford Delaney estate because the pieces were suspected to be forgeries.

Requiring proof of authentication is a critical step in acquiring works of fine art and yet this is not always the easiest thing to accomplish. If you are new to collecting, you may want to learn more about this. So I am providing links to several online sources of information that pertain to this topic. I hope you'll find them useful!

Note that Les Amis does not endorse any of these sources or the information that they provide.

What Counts as an Artwork’s Proof of Authenticity

What Every Art Collector Needs to Know About Provenance

Art Provenance: What It Is and How to Verify It

Everything You Need to Know About the Certificate of Authenticity

How to Tell if your Artwork is Fake

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Time Out: A Contemplative Exercise with Beauford's Art

In an article entitled "Double Vision: Beauford Delaney and Ted Joans in France," art historian and curator Karima Boudou makes two insightful statements about Beauford's art:

"A Delaney painting is a poem rather than a picture. It portrays an emotion called up by a scene, and not the scene itself in all its elaborate complexity."

" If you spend time in front of a Delaney painting and watch, figures and objects come in and out of focus, just as if everything in the world is elusive. The reason for this ambiguity in Delaney’s work is that a Delaney painting is not simply a depiction of a new way of seeing; it is, rather, the visual articulation of a metaphysical state."

I invite you to take some time out from your busy schedule and look at the images of several of Beauford's paintings below, keeping these two statements in mind. Give yourself a wonderful break from the hustle and bustle of your daily routine and contemplate what you see and feel!

Rosa Parks
(1967) oil on canvas
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator
Image courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York, NY

Can Fire in the Park
(1946) Oil on canvas
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

The Eye
(1965) Oil on canvas
Private Collection
© Discover Paris
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Dark Rapture (a portrait of James Baldwin)
(1941) Oil on canvas
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Untitled
Watercolor on paper
Signed and dated lower left in red ink, "Beauford Delaney 1971"
Photo courtesy of Case Antiques
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Café Scene
(1966) Oil on canvas
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Portrait of Vasilli Pikoula
(1970) Oil on canvas
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Solliès-Toucas


The images below represent two paintings by Beauford that bare the (misspelled) name of the French town of Solliès-Toucas. Beauford's friends, Richard Olney and Bernard Hassell, owned a home there.

Sollis Toucan 
(1963) Oil on canvas
Signed, dated and titled, on the stretcher
16 3/8 x 13 inches
© Estate of Beauford Delaney,
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

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

In the book entitled The Gourmand's Way, we find descriptions of the property where Beauford created these works. It overlooked the valley of the Gapeau River, where

"...cherry orchards transformed the valley into a blanket of white blossom in early April, the ground of the hillsides formed a tapestry of the blues and violets of flowering wild thyme, punctuated by bushes of wild rosemary..."

Author Justin Spring describes Olney and Hassell's home as a "ruined shepherd's cottage," a "one-bedroom home" featuring "a combination kitchen and hearth as its main room." He says that the terrace was the place where guests gathered and describes a "dining table tucked into a combination of sun awning and grape arbor" there. Olney decorated the terrace with a string of lights and planted flowers and herbs on parterres below. The house had a southeastern exposure, which provided for plenty of sun most of the year. The surrounding land consisted of seven acres of olive groves.

Throughout much of the 1960s (the period when at least one of the above paintings was created), there was no road leading to the property. The house had no running water and no phone. Cooking was done on a gas ring. The garden housed "a walk-in aviary and chicken run, a gently dripping fountain, a persimmon tree..."

Over time, improvements to the property included the addition of a fireplace in the kitchen, a driveway and parking area, and a wine cellar.

Guests would commonly stay 1-2 weeks at a time and were expected to contribute to the functioning of the household - foraging for wild herbs and vegetables, preparing meals, stacking wood were all activities in which they could expect to partake.

This was the world where biographer David Leeming says that "Beauford painted a great deal, and, as always, enjoyed the sun..."