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Saturday, May 1, 2021

Beauford Delaney Research Grant - Part 1

Beauford Delaney
1953 - Carl Van Vechten


I learned about the Beauford Delaney Research Grant - the Bourse Beauford Delaney - on April 21, 2021.

Announcements about this $20,000 award are posted online in English and in French.

The grant funds travel and other expenses related to research projects on African-American art undertaken by France-based academics and scholars. The awardee can travel to the United States to work in archives, museums, libraries and possibly to meet with artists.

While Beauford's name is attached to the grant, the awardee is not obligated to research his work.

The 2021 award is intended for postdoctoral researchers, while the 2022 award will be offered to master's- and doctorate-level researchers in training. In all cases, it is expected that the fellowship will produce a tangible result such as a book, article, conference, or exhibit. These results will be made available to the public, enriching the field of art history and heightening the profile of work by African-American artists.

A few days ago, I received a thoughtful email from France Nerlich, Director of Studies and Research Department at the Institut national d'histoire de l'art (INHA). (INHA is one of the collaborative partners for the grant.) Nerwith wanted to inform me about the grant because of the work Les Amis does to increase awareness of Beauford's legacy. She kindly consented to grant me an interview, the first part of which I'm sharing below.

Les Amis: Please describe the "broader initiative to promote African-American artists in France" of which the Beauford Delaney research grant is a part.

FN: Thanks to the support of the Ford Foundation, the Étant donnés Contemporary Art program* launched a new initiative in 2018 to promote the visibility of African-American artists in France via exhibitions, residencies, and research trips. The initiative aimed to foster dialogue between French and American art and culture professionals around the contemporary African-American art scene. Twelve French curators and institutional directors were invited to visit New York and Chicago for an exploratory trip to learn more about this art scene via studio visits and meetings with professionals, with the goal of bringing exhibitions of contemporary work by African-American artists to major French institutions and inviting African American to become artists in residence at French institutions. 

Five projects have resulted from this initial exchange trip so far, including in-person and online exhibitions as well as residencies. More is to come.

Les Amis: How long did it take for the project to come to fruition?

FN: In 2020, the above mentioned initiative was expanded to promote art historical scholarship in France on work by African American artists. This proposal immediately met with the approval of INHA director Eric de Chassey in Paris, who has supported decentralized, inclusive, and resolutely transnational art history since his arrival at the institute in 2016.

Since its creation in the early 2000s, INHA has proposed fundamental support for a globalized approach to art history that is attentive to the societal stakes of art history and to the epistemological stakes of a discipline that pays attention to questions of representation and constructions of identity. Since 2016, in-depth reflections have been undertaken to put the structuring categories within the institution into perspective and to open them up completely to a non-Eurocentric art history.

Les Amis: Whose idea was it to create this grant?

FN: The project for this fellowship began to be discussed during the fall of 2020. The initiative came from Gaëtan Bruel, Cultural Counselor at the French Embassy in the United States, and Anne-Claire Duprat, who leads the construction of all the actions with the Ford Foundation within the “Etant donnés” program.

Come back to the blog next week to read Part 2 of this interview.

*Étant donnés Contemporary Art is a program operated by Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the U.S. in partnership with FACE Foundation (French American Cultural Exchange). It aims to strengthen ties between France and the U.S. in the field of contemporary art by fostering active collaboration and encouraging long-lasting partnerships between French visual artists, curators, and collectives and American curators and cultural institutions.

In the past 27 years, Étant donnés has developed an international reputation by allocating over $3 million to fund more than 300 projects and 30 curators. The program funds grants to American nonprofit institutions to organize exhibitions featuring French artists, curatorial fellowships assisting American curators, and a residency program supporting French artists seeking to develop specific projects with American partners.

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