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Saturday, April 20, 2019

Beauford's Post-War Art

Within the last six months, Beauford's work has been sold at two auctions whose titles reference the Post-war (WWII) period: Christie's Post-war to Present sale and Ader Nordmann's Art d'après-guerre & contemporain (Post-war and contemporary art) sale.

I recently came across an archival Web site for a major exhibition entitled Postwar: Art Between the Pacific and the Atlantic, 1945-1965, which delved extensively into what transpired in the art world in the aftermath of World War II. The site describes the exhibition as
"an in-depth, global study, the exhibition shows painting, sculpture, installation, collage, performance, film, artist books, documents, photography, in total more than 350 works by 218 artists from 65 countries."

I was pleased to find that two of Beauford's paintings were included in this show, which ran from October 14, 2016 through March 26, 2017. It was held at Haus der Kunst in Munich, Germany.

One of the works was a portrait of James Baldwin, currently held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Portrait of James Baldwin
(1945) Oil on canvas
Philadelphia Museum of Art
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

The other was a yellow abstract held by the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery.

(c.1958) Oil on canvas
signed and dated
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator
Image courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY

The exhibition was divided into eight chapters and the artists whose works were shown were listed in one or more of these chapters. Beauford's name was listed in the chapters "Form Matters" and "New Images of Man."

The essay for the chapter entitled "Form Matters" indicates that the exhibition
"emphasizes the affinity of ideas and materials among artists who emigrated to the U.S. from Europe. It also documents the encounters of artists from around the world who gathered in such metropolitan centers as Paris, London, and Mexico City; and reviews the proximity and circulation of art works in international exhibitions and small press publications."

The essay that describes "New Images of Man" indicates that
"Philosophers and artists sought to inquire more deeply into human nature itself, in debates that included the discourses of négritude and existentialism, and the rights of individuals and groups within larger (often oppressive) social and political entities. 'New Images' features pictorial versions of such inquiries, in which humans often appear battered, deformed by the horror of modern life, rent by the question of their own value."

In visiting the Web pages that present the works included in each chapter, I found an image of Beauford's abstract in the "Form Matters" section.

However, the image of his portrait of James Baldwin was included in the chapter called "Realisms." The essay for this section focuses primarily on art produced in socialist / communist countries, but it also mentions that the section includes "ideologically programmatic art by such U.S. artists as Norman Rockwell, who was associated with realist rendering and popular audiences."

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