Les Amis de Beauford Delaney is supporting the completion of


the first full-length documentary about Beauford.

Join us in making this video tribute to Beauford a reality!



Saturday, June 25, 2022

Beauford and Ted Joans

Surrealist poet and painter Ted Joans was acquainted with Beauford and wrote about him at least twice.

Where and when they first met, I do not know. I am aware of three encounters in Paris.

Joans was born in Cairo, Illinois and grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana and Louisville, Kentucky. After completing a Bachelor of Arts degree at Indiana University, he moved to NYC in 1951 and became involved with the Beat Generation in Greenwich Village. Beauford was living in Greenwich Village at that time and had already become somewhat of a local celebrity, so it is possible that the two men met there.

Joans began traveling to Paris in 1960 and visited the city many times during the following two decades. He wrote about Beauford after having seen him at the solo exhibition of Beauford's works organized by Darthea Speyer in February 1973.

Beauford and Darthea
Invitation card for 1973 exhibit at Galerie Darthea Speyer
Courtesy of Galerie Darthea Speyer

In Volume 23, No. 3 of the Johnson Publishing Company's Black World (January 1974), Joans speaks with rapture about Beauford's work:

...one has nothing to fear from the paintings of Beauford Delaney but the truth. Some of that truth was exhibited at the Galerie Darthea Speyer, 6 Rue Jacques Callot on the Left Bank (Paris) from Feb. 6 to May 2. The paintings of Mr. Delaney were at last being shown at an important international gallery after years of being almost totally ignored by them, in spite of Mr. Delaney being one of the living legends of American art.

Beauford Delaney's oils are painted natural as he is, giving off charming light that causes on to be happy before the painting. His work stimulates the human soul, like a Billie Holiday recording or a Louis Armstrong trumpet solo, the true magic of America: Black Magic!

The magazine published a photo taken at the exhibition, in which is Beauford sitting in a chair with his left arm outstretched, while Joans and jazz saxaphonist Ornette Coleman stand above him. The caption in the magazine indicates that Coleman purchased one of Beauford's oils, while Joans purchased a drawing.

L to R: Beauford (seated), Ornette Coleman, and Ted Joans
Photographer unknown*

In 1975, photographer Marion Kalter captured Beauford and Ted Joans on film in Beauford's studio on rue Vercingétorix.  

Ted Joans and Beauford Delaney at rue Vercingétorix studio in 1975
© Marion Kalter

In 1976, Joans visited Beauford at Sainte-Anne's Hospital. As a result, he was inspired to write a poem called "In Thursday Sane," which he signed and dated "16 dec 76 Paris Juedi [sic] 2:30 PM." With his permission, it was published by Swan Scythe Press in 2001.

Book cover - Lost and Found: "In Thursday Sane"

Sandra McPherson discovered the poem when found a copy of Amos Tutuola’s novel The Palm-Wine Drinkard in a used bookshop in Sacramento, CA in 1999. Joans had once owned the book, where he wrote "In Thursday Sane" in the back pages. Lost and Found: "In Thursday Sane" publishes not only the 33-line verse, but also images of the original handwritten poem. It also includes an image of a sketch by Joans (reproduced on the book cover), which presumably depicts him and Beauford.

Joans refers to Beauford and Beauford's brother Joseph in the poem - "One of the dark Delaney brothers - Painters both - one here other there".

He mentions the hospital's "Pinel Salle" twice (this pavilion still exists at Sainte-Anne's) and describes Beauford as being a "gray beard man of bright paintings."

He ends the poem by expressing his heart's disbelief that Beauford is "crazy." 


*The use of this low-resolution image is contended to be a fair use, since it is used solely for educational purposes in a not-for-profit blog, is necessary for cultural and historical purposes, and is not believed to decrease the material value of the copyright by its use here. The image is of inherently lower quality than the original, reducing the risk of competitiveness and therefore the effects of this copy on the market for or value of versions held by the owner of the copyright. Our usage does not limit the copyright owner's rights to sell the image in any way.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Beauford Inspires Founding of Interdisciplinary Humanities Club in Dallas, TX

Over the years, the collaboration between Les Amis de Beauford Delaney and the Wells International Foundation has born significant fruit with regard to educational programs for youth.

As a result of visiting the 2016 Resonance of Form and Vibration of Color exhibition in Paris, several Knoxvillians were inspired to implement a program called "Bringing Beauford Delaney Home" in 2017. The Knoxville Museum of Art (KMA), the Knoxville chapter of The Links, Incorporated, and West View Elementary School worked together to create this program for twenty-six (26) elementary school students.

Information card from West View Elementary School Arts Night
Image courtesy of The Links Incorporated, Knoxville Chapter

In 2018-2019, the Classes Duo Paris/Knoxville program brought a total of 42 French and U.S. children together through Beauford's life and art. The high point of the program was the Knoxville students' visit to Paris to meet their Paris counterparts.

Farewell reception collage
© Wells International Foundation

The most recent academic program to develop from the Les Amis/WIF collaboration is the Interdisciplinary Humanities Club (IHUM) at the Episcopal School of Dallas (ESD) in Dallas, TX. Upper School English and French teacher Antonia Moran recruited five additional educators and launched the program at the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year, and twenty sophmore and junior students participated.

Moran shared the following with me regarding the club:

As you may know, this club exists because of YOU and your work on Beauford Delaney and Entree to Black Paris in general! ...

Diving into your work, your illumination of those artists and voices that one does not tend to hear about in connection with Paris, has been a treasure trove of richness that adds to our understanding of what makes Paris great ...

Seeing the students’ engagement has been fulfilling, and I feel like we are learning and enriching our understanding together as we teach each other. It’s been a very collaborative experience and incredible and uplifting to see so many students' eyes opened and interests set aflame.

Zoom conference with IHUM students and faculty advisors
© Wells International Foundation

Read more about IHUM here: Dallas High School Students Love Humanities and Paris.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Beauford's Art Inspires Creative Writing

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about a creative writing workshop that I'd been asked to lead for the University of Kent Postgraduate Arts Festival entitled Chaos & Order:

Writing from Art: A Creative Workshop.

The event is now a fait accompli!

Eight people gathered on Friday afternoon for an intimate session at the Citè Falguière in the 15th arrondissement. Upon arriving at this dead-end street, I was able to take a photo of the building at Number 5, where Beauford's friend, Charley Boggs, once lived.

5, Citè Falguière
© Entrée to Black Paris

When I approached 11, Cité Falguière - the only remaining artist atelier on the street - I saw that it looks pretty much the same as it did when I photographed it ten years ago.

11, Citè Falguière in 2012
© Discover Paris!

The front room of the ground floor of the building is serving as the exhibition space for the L'AiR Arts Association Chaos & Order show of works by four artists. A table in the center of the room creates a gathering spot for visitors.

Exhibition room at 11, Citè Falguière
© Entrée to Black Paris

The workshop took place in the basement of the building. Pallas-Amenah Morgan, Writing and Literature Liason for this year's festival, opened the session.

Pallas-Amenah Morgan opens the session
© Entrée to Black Paris

I briefly introduced Beauford, then played the four-minute video trailer of So Splendid a Journey - the full-length documentary about him that is currently in production.

Monique Y. Wells and the opening slide of the presentation
© Entrée to Black Paris

I presented the history of Les Amis de Beauford Delaney, the achievements we've made in collaboration with the Wells International Foundation and Entrée to Black Paris to preserve and promote Beauford's legacy, and a brief overview of the evolution of his art throughout his career.

I then showed images of three paintings that inspired two Wells International Foundation interns to write verse and prose poetry, and ended by showing four images that I hoped would inspire attendees to write creative pieces during the time allotted for the workshop.

Artworks for inspiration
© Entrée to Black Paris

Attendees had so many questions about the presentation that only ten minutes remained to complete the creative writing exercise!

Quatoyiah Murry - inspired to write
© Entrée to Black Paris
Words flowing onto paper
© Entrée to Black Paris

In the time remaining for the final segment of the workshop, six of the eight participants shared their reflections on Beauford's artwork and the prose or poetry they wrote as a result. All were impressive and a couple were particularly moving.

Morgan then closed the session and everyone moved upstairs to discuss what had just transpired. Morgan and I were photographed together.

Monique Y. Wells and Pallas-Amenah Morgan
© Entrée to Black Paris

When I left, just about everyone was still in the exhibition room engrossed in conversation. Morgan wrote me later to thank me for "a truly inspiring afternoon," and said that all the participants were genuinely touched by the experience.

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Beauford Delaney Works Described on Video

Today I'm providing links to several brief (less-than-6-minute) videos that present individual paintings created by Beauford over the years. 

Each presenter talks about Beauford's life circumstances, but my intent is to have you focus on their description of the work they have decided to feature.

Portrait of James Baldwin (1945)

Portrait of James Baldwin
(1945) Oil on canvas
Philadelphia Museum of Art

The Philadelphia Museum of Art created this video to discuss Beauford's 1945 Portrait of James Baldwin (the speaker was not identified): 

"Portrait of James Baldwin" by Beauford Delaney

Can Fire in the Park (1946)

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

Stephanie Frey, docent at the Wichita Art Museum, provides commentary on this iconic painting:

Beauford Delaney, Can Fire in the Park, 1946

River Arts Inc. Gallery created a "Tidbits: Pocket-sized Art History" video about Beauford's life and work. In it, gallery manager Kristina Coopman describes Can Fire in the Park from 3:23 minutes to 4:30 minutes:

Tidbits Ep. 6: Beauford Delaney

Untitled (1959)

(1959) Oil on canvas
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Mint Museum Senior Curator of American Art, Jonathan Stuhlman, PhD, discusses this vibrant untitled painting:

“Untitled” by Beauford Delaney

Portrait of Marian Anderson (1965)

Marian Anderson
(1965) Oil on canvas
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
J. Harwood and Louise B. Cochrane Fund for American Art
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Dr. Shawnya Harris, the Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Curator of African American and African Diasporic Art at the Georgia Museum of Art, and Dr. Steven Zucker, Founder and Executive Director of Smarthistory, talk about this painting:

A modern icon: Beauford Delaney's Marian Anderson