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BEAUFORD DELANEY: SO SPLENDID A JOURNEY,

the first full-length documentary about Beauford.


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Saturday, January 16, 2021

The Delaney Brothers: Lives in Art

During Black History Month, the University of Tennessee Downtown Gallery will show works by Beauford and his brother, Joseph, in an exhibition entitled The Delaney Brothers: Lives In Art.  It is being mounted just over twenty years after what was to have been a joint October-November 1970 exhibition opened at the McClung Gallery on UTK's campus. 

 Promotional image from UT Downtown Gallery Website

Due to Beauford's increasing mental instability, he was unable to fulfill his commitment to send paintings to Knoxville, and the show became a solo exhibition for Joseph. 

Beauford's biographer, David Leeming, and Joseph's biographer, Frederick Moffatt, devote 2-3 pages to this event in their respective publications. 

Leeming describes the prospect of creating and shipping the artwork and making the voyage to Knoxville to attend the exhibition as overwhelming for Beauford. He quotes from a letter sent to Joseph in which Beauford praises Joseph's work and explains why he was unable to contribute to the show: 

"My health is good considering all things but I must be careful and many things I would like to do must wait until my condition is more composed." 

Moffatt also quotes passages from the letter, focusing more on the congratulatory nature of the missive: 

"Your time has arrived as it should be, you have not only lifted the Delaneys but also you [have given] to Paris something for your brother Beauford." 

From Leeming, we learn that Joseph sent Beauford photos of the exhibition. 

From Moffatt, we learn that the show was Joseph's first major retrospective and that it consisted of thirty-three paintings and eight drawings.  

Delaney Brothers: Lives in Art will open on Friday, February 5 with a reception hosted by the university from 5 PM to 8 PM. It will be open for viewing on Wednesdays through Fridays from 11:00 AM - 6:00 PM, and on Saturdays from 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM through February 27, 2021. 

There is no cost to attend - entry is free. 

UT Downtown Gallery
106 S. Gay Street
Knoxville TN 37902
Contact: Mike Berry
Email:
Telephone: 865-673-0802

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Beauford's Portrait of a Nude Woman

According to biographer David Leeming, Beauford "revealed himself publicly as a modernist" via a monographic exhibition at the Vendome art gallery in midtown Manhattan in January-February 1941. He presented "new cityscapes" and "trademark" portraits, including a pastel of his mother, Delia. 

 But one portrait in the show was distinctly not "trademark." It was a nude painting of a young white dancer named Jessie. 

Leeming goes on to say that Beauford rarely painted nudes and that when he took classes at the Art Students' League, he was "relieved to discover the unwritten rule that black painters not attend life classes when the female models were white." He identifies Jessie as the girlfriend of James Baldwin's friend, Emile Capouya, and he says Jessie insisted that Beauford paint her. 

Though I have never seen an image of this painting, I believe it is represented in the photograph below.

Beauford in his Greene Street studio, New York City, 1944
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator 

Two paintings are seen, side by side, "behind" the ceiling light in this photo. 

The one on the right is Untitled (The Artist and Woman Seated), dated 1940. It was offered for auction by Swann Auction Galleries in October 2018, but was not sold. The auction catalog speculated that the young woman seated next to Beauford could be Jessie.


Untitled (The Artist and Woman Seated)
1940)
Oil on linen canvas
Image courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

The painting on the left appears to be a reclining nude. It may well be the portrait of Jessie.
Beauford in his Greene Street studio, New York City, 1944 - detail
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator
 
Beauford's portrait of James Baldwin, Dark Rapture, is seen on the wall above Beauford's head in the photo. 
 
 

Beauford in his Greene Street studio, New York City, 1944 - detail (Dark Rapture)
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator
 
It was also shown at the Vendome exhibition.
 
Dark Rapture
(1941) Oil on masonite
Collection of halley k harrisburg and Michael Rosenfeld
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

The whereabouts of the nude portrait of Jessie are unknown to me.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Happy New Year from Les Amis de Beauford Delaney!

I find the untitled painting shown below to be a wonderful metaphor for 2021. 

 

Untitled
(1959) Oil on canvas
Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC, USA
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator


To me, it represents a juxtaposition of turbulence and hope ... 

Turbulence through the powerful energy of the swirls that move through the center of the painting, stirring up the atmosphere around it ... 

 and hope because of the colors Beauford chose to represent this energy and atmosphere. 

Instead of using somber hues, he chose white for the energy surge and sky blue for its backdrop. 

Splotches of yellow, peach, rose, and green admixed with the energy channel and surrounding it give me a light feeling and remind me of spring - the season of rebirth and infinite possibility. 

May 2021 be a year filled with powerful, positive energy for you and yours!

Saturday, December 26, 2020

50 Years Ago - Beauford's Abstracts

Last week, I brought you a post about the difficulties Beauford had during the year 1970 and showed images of several portraits he produced that year.

50 Years Ago - Beauford's Portraits


Despite his troubles, Beauford had several successes in 1970. Among them was his participation in a group exhibition called Afro-American Artists Abroad, which was shown at the National Center of Afro-American Artists in Dorchester, Massachusetts and the University of Texas Art Museum in Austin, TX. 

The images of several 1970 abstract works that I'm presenting today call to mind a statement written about Beauford's œuvre for the exhibition catalog by art professor James Lewis: 

"Radiates the joy of an artist with one concern, the challenging joy of painting."

Untitled
(1970) Gouache
© Artistes sans Frontières/Douglas Petrovic, 2004
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Untitled
(1970) Gouache
© Artistes sans Frontières/Douglas Petrovic, 2004
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Untitled
(1970) Oil on canvas
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator
Photo courtesy of Robert Tricoire

Untitled
(1970) Mixed media on canvas
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Untitled
(1970) Mixed media on cardboard
Private collection
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,

Untitled
(circa 1970) Oil on canvas
Collection Walker Art Center
Gift of the Kunin Family, 2014
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Untitled, 1970
Oil on canvas, 65 x 54 cm.
© Christie's Images, 2013
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator