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Saturday, September 26, 2020

Beauford and the Portrait of Stanislas Rodanski

A couple of weeks ago, I published an article in the Entrée to Black Paris blog that presented a contemporary art exhibition called École Paris-BXL, which was shown at the Galerie Transplantation in the Chemin du Montparnasse in Paris. Though I was initially intrigued by the story behind the gallery and the curator who mounted this exhibition, I knew that I had to see the show for myself when I saw an image of Beauford with one of his portraits on the advertisement.

Signage at entrance to Galerie Transplantation
© Entrée to Black Paris

The photo was published in a journal called Le Musée Vivant, which was founded in 1937 by a French woman named Madeleine Rousseau.

When I arrived at the exhibition, I found that in addition to artwork created by young African-diaspora artists living in Paris and Brussels, curator Amandine Nana had made a small archive of articles and photos from Le Musée Vivant available for consultation. I was thrilled to discover that the photo of Beauford appeared on the cover of Issue No. 23-24, 3e Trim 1964, entitled "Les Artistes dans leur Atelier."

Front page of Le Musée Vivant No. 23-24 1964
© Entrée to Black Paris

Article about Beauford in Le Musée Vivant No. 23-24 1964
© Entrée to Black Paris

The journal describes visits to many artist studios, including Beauford's. In a two-page article about the visit to Beauford's studio, Rousseau waxes poetic about the works she and others viewed there. She identifies the figure in the portrait shown in the photograph as being opera singer Sergei Radamsky and describes how the visitors' observations about this painting led the conversation first to music, then to science. She quotes Julian Alvard, the organizer of an exhibition called Le Nuage Crève to which Beauford contributed a yellow abstract, saying that Alvard referred to Beauford's painting as "an emanation of the sun." The rest of the article delves into a recitation of recent astronomical discoveries and ends with a philosophical musing about how art precedes science.

I immediately thought to myself that the subject of the portrait, which is owned by the Metropolitan Museum of New York, was identified as surrealist poet Stanislas Rodanski.

Stanislas Rodanski
1963 Oil on canvas
Beauford Delaney (1901-1979)
(c) Droits réservés
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA
George A. Hearn Fund, 1992

I searched for images of Radamsky on the Internet and came up with the one found on this Amazon site: Der Ve[r]fo[l]gte Tenor

Though Beauford often took liberties with his portrayals of people in his portraits, there are significant similarities between the photo portrait found at the above mentioned link and Beauford's 1963 portrait.

In my article about the portrait at the Met, I mention that it is questionable whether Beauford ever met Rodanski because Rodanski was confined to a mental institution in Lyon in 1953 – the same year that Beauford arrived in Paris. Rodanski was 27 years old at the time and he never left the institution, dying there in 1981.

It is much more likely that Beauford painted Radamsky, whom he met in New York and with whom he traveled to Italy, Austria, Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands in 1954. Radamsky (1890-1973) would have been 73 years old at the time Beauford produced this painting.


David Leopold said...

Nice post. there is a good chance that Beauford met Sergi Radamsky through Al Hirschfeld. Hirschfeld had roomed with Radamsky in Moscow in 1928 and he became part of the Hirschfeld circle. Hirschfeld drew Radamsky in New York when the tenor performed at the New School, and he frequently stayed at the Hirschfeld home when he visited NY. It is easy to believe that Hirschfeld could have introduced Beauford to Radamsky on one of those visits, and if Radamsky was going to Paris, Hirschfeld would have undoubtedly suggested he look Beauford up while he was there.

David Leopold said...

The appearance at the new School was in 1931.