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!



Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ed Clark Remembers Beauford

Ed Clark is one of the few living artists who expatriated to Paris in the years after World War II. He was a great friend of Beauford, and was pleased to accord me an interview about him.

Clark arrived in Paris in 1952, the year before Beauford settled there. He sailed on the SS Liberté (as Beauford did in 1953), and described the treatment that he received as a passenger traveling third class as being better than he could have ever imagined—great food and wine, waiters dressed in coat and tie, shoe-shine service, movies...

Upon arrival in Paris, Clark settled in the Hôtel des Ecoles on rue Delambre. By the time Beauford arrived and moved into this hotel, Clark had moved across the street to number 22. They first met at the Ecole de la Grande Chaumière, an art school in the neighborhood. Many Americans on the GI Bill studied at this school, and Clark was one of them.

Académie de la Grande Chaumière
© Discover Paris!

Plaque from the Académie de la Grande Chaumière
© Discover Paris!

Though twenty-five years younger than Beauford, Clark considered himself a mentor of sorts for Beauford during the first years of their friendship. He did not think much of Beauford’s art at the time because he was focused on classic, faithful reproductions of persons and objects. He considered Beauford’s work to be that of an “outsider”—someone whose style was avant-garde, and therefore undesirable. (He apparently did not know that Beauford had drawn beautiful, “classic” portraits during his Boston and New York years.) He also felt that he was qualified to advise Beauford because he had a one man show at a “blue chip” gallery in Paris (1955) at a time when Beauford had not yet enjoyed having his work shown in Paris.

Now, with the passage of time and the advantage of hindsight, Clark considers that Beauford was a genius. He particularly admires Beauford’s self-portrait at the Art Institute of Chicago, stating that the painting “lights up the room.” He recalls a sketch that Beauford did of him during the 50s that he dismissed at the time, but now describes as “powerful.”

Ed Clark and Beauford Delaney at the 3 Noirs USA exposition
American Center of Paris 1969
Photo courtesy of Ed Clark

Clark recalled minute details about Beauford’s personal habits, such as the fact that he loved spirituals, liked cognac, and did not eat pork. He described Beauford as someone who sketched and painted all the time, noting that he worked quickly. He also described Beauford as a great conversationalist, and said that he shared sage advice with friends and acquaintances.

Though Clark moved from Paris to New York in 1956, he would visit Beauford on subsequent trips to the French capital. He recounted a story about the concierge of the building at 53, rue Vercingétorix, where Beauford has his last studio. At that time, concierges were truly gatekeepers of apartment buildings. Anyone wanting access into the building had to pass by them. Clark mentioned that Beauford’s concierge once asked him whether Beauford was the President of the U.S. or some other important person, given the number of famous people who visited him there.

On that particular occasion, Beauford was entertaining four “important people.” Clark sat with them while they chatted with Beauford. When they left to go to dinner, Beauford beckoned to Clark and began to pull humble provisions from his cabinets—sardines, bread, wine… As they sat down to break bread together, Beauford said, “That’s how one helps another.”

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Henry Miller's 1972 Tribute to Beauford

I am pleased to announce that the Henry Miller lithograph that was donated to Les Amis de Beauford Delaney in support of our fundraising efforts has been sold by Dorothy's Gallery!  Proceeds will offset the cost of the commemorative ceremony at Beauford's gravesite and the reception to be held afterward at the George C. Marshall Center in Paris.  Many thanks to Dorothy Polley, who agreed to sell the work on our behalf!


For the first retrospective exposition that Darthea Speyer mounted for Beauford, she invited several of his friends to write a tribute to him. Following are excerpts from the tribute that Henry Miller wrote about his good friend. It is dated September 26, 1972. The original document is now held at the Smithsonian in the Archives of American Art.

First Paragraph of Henry Miller's Letter of Tribute to Beauford
September 26, 1972
Courtesy of the Smithsonian Archives of American Art

“I think of Beauford Delaney first as a wonderful, amazing and unique human being, a near saint or better than saint, an indidvidual [sic] who has known nothing but adversity, met it squarely, and rendered it null, not through success but by sheer pluck and indomitable fortitude. If he had never painted a picture worth looking at twice he would still be an artist of the first water. He has lived his whole life with but one thought in mind—to paint. Unlike more well-known painters, he has given an ungodly number of his paintings as gifts. He has made many, many friends throughout his career, and he never ceases to make new ones. He is not just a friend, he is the friend, the one who gives his all. Poor though he has been, he has never given the impression of being miserable. He has always given more than he received—that is to say, himself…

“How he has survived these fifteen or twenty years in Paris no one really knows. His hovel in the rue Vercingetorix has become something of a shrine. One opens the door to his tiny quarters and is immediately bathed in light. His paintings glow with bright, vivid colors, rainbow colors. Many of them are portraits, portraits of friends and celebrities, portraits of nobodies. Should you happen to admire one of them he is almost certain to offer it to you as a gift. He never worries about losing a masterpiece. He doesn’t think in terms of masterpieces. For every one that comes off his wall he has a dozen others to replace them…

“I sincerely hope this retrospective exhibition will be not only a comprehensive one but an inspiring one. If it is not a success (financially) Beauford will be none the worse. He lives not on dollars or francs but on faith, and it is a faith that abides. God bless him now and forever!”

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dorothy's Gallery Supports Beauford

Dorothy’s Gallery has graciously offered to sell the Henry Miller lithograph entitled Sarasota on behalf of Les Amis de Beauford Delaney.

Dorothy Polley, owner of Dorothy’s Gallery, is a long-time American expatriate from Norwalk, Connecticut. She launched the gallery at 27, rue Keller in the 11th arrondissement, Paris in 2006. Having already demonstrated her support for Les Amis by contributing to the gravesite fund in the gallery’s name, she was pleased to take this additional step to help the association preserve Beauford’s memory.

Dorothy’s Gallery
© Discover Paris!

Henry Miller and Beauford Delaney were great friends. They first met in New York, when Beauford lived on Greene Street. He and Miller corresponded regularly, both before and after Beauford moved to Paris. Beauford often wrote of how his work was progressing and his emotional state of being, while Miller wrote to encourage Beauford and admonish him (at least once) for giving away works that Miller thought would one day be in great demand. Miller sent Beauford money when times were hard, and visited him whenever he came to Paris. When Beauford was admitted to the Nogent sur Marne clinic for psychiatric therapy in 1962, Miller was denied entry to see his friend, but did speak with Beauford’s physician, Dr. Ferdière. He continued to communicate with Ferdière regarding Beauford’s condition for the next few years. When Beauford died, a message from Miller about his friend was read at the service.

In honor of the Delaney-Miller friendship, Miller’s son, Henry Tony Miller, donated the print to the cause. Sarasota is number 11/100 of the US edition of the painting. It is printed on Arches paper and measures 25.5 x 20 inches.

Dorothy Polley and Sarasota
© Discover Paris!

Henry Miller
Photo courtesy of Henry Tony Miller

Dorothy’s Gallery will hold a vernissage (open house) on Friday, September 17th from to Sarasota will be available for viewing and for sale at this event.  If you are in Paris, please take the time to stop by!

Proceeds from the sale will be used to defray costs for the commemorative ceremony and reception that Les Amis is organizing to inaugurate Beauford’s tombstone. We now have a tentative date for this event: October 14, 2010. Stay tuned for details, which will be forthcoming shortly!

Dorothy’s Gallery
27, rue Keller
75011 Paris
Telephone: 33 (0)1 43 57 08 51
Internet: http://dorothysgallery.com/art
E-mail: dorothysgallery@gmail.com

Hours: Sunday and Tuesday – 4 PM to 7 PM
           Wednesday through Saturday – 1 PM to 7 PM
           Closed Mondays.
           Appointments possible.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Herb Gentry Serigraph Once Again Up for Auction

Hello everyone,

You may remember that during our fundraising drive for Beauford's tombstone, we received a remarkable donation from Mary Anne Rose and the Herbert Gentry estate – a beautiful serigraph entitled Simply Green. ArtNet, an organization in Manhattan that describes itself as "the place to buy, sell and research fine art online," put the work up for auction. But it did not sell.

My contact at ArtNet contacted me last month to say that the auction house was willing to try again, and that they would arrange things as quickly as possible. Today, I received a message indicating that the serigraph is once again available for sale. Bidding is now open!

Always Green
Herbert Gentry
Serigraph (2000)

Mary Anne Rose provides the following description of the print:

Always Green was done at the period the artist was working on his final three editions published by GR N’Namdi Gallery in conjunction with his book Herbert Gentry: The Man The Magic The Master. Always Green is among the artist’s final works. This serigraph was printed in 2000 at Lime Grafik in Malmo, Sweden.

Always Green is about regeneration. In the work of Herbert Gentry, the Green man refers to different aspects of fertility, as well as spiritual growth and transformation. Gentry saw his art as direct contact with the unconscious, and as an artist, he neither consciously determined a work's subjective import nor final appearance. Thus, his works trace states of being and change. The Green Man theme relates to larger paintings like Spiritually Green (1978) and He Seeth All (1962) and On All Sides (1990). Gentry realized his figurative imagery through process and each work evolved out of spontaneous and direct gesture.
Always Green will be available for bidding until Tuesday, September 21, 2010 at 2.56 PM Eastern Time. The opening bid is $1500. There is no reserve price.  Please click here to visit the ArtNet site and place your bid.

Proceeds from the sale will be applied to the cost of the commemorative ceremony and reception that Les Amis is planning for Beauford to "inaugurate" his new tombstone. 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Beauford's Tombstone is in Place!

Tombstone Inscription
© Discover Paris!

Less than a year after founding Les Amis de Beauford Delaney, I am extremely pleased to announce that Beauford’s tombstone is in place!  The inscription reads:

Beauford Delaney
Peintre • Painter
30 December 1901 - 26 March 1979
Born: Knoxville, Tennessee  USA
Died: Paris, France
"I am home"

As a reminder, Les Amis was founded in November 2009 with the intent to accomplish the following:

1) Placement and maintenance of a tombstone for the grave of painter Beauford Delaney, who is buried at the Parisian Cemetery of Thiais.

2) Payment of the renewal fees for his grave.

3) Organization of commemorative or educational events in his honor.

4) Inform the press and the media of his life and accomplishments.
With your generosity and moral support, we have accomplished these goals in less than one year! We have the money to renew Beauford’s concession at Thiais Cemetery (to be paid in 2011); we have participated in three commemorative and educational events in his honor thus far in 2010 (hosted by the American Embassy, Paris Soirées, and the G. R. N’Namdi Gallery), and we have been successful in getting articles and blog postings published about Beauford.

Most importantly, we have succeeded in placing a simple, yet elegant tombstone at Beauford’s burial place.

Beauford’s Unmarked Grave – July 2009
© Discover Paris!

Preparation of the Gravesite – Summer 2010
© Discover Paris!

Tombstone – August 2010
© Discover Paris!

Les Amis de Beauford Delaney will hold a commemorative ceremony at Beauford’s gravesite to “inaugurate” the stone and to honor Beauford’s memory. The U.S. Ambassador has indicated his willingness to host a reception following the ceremony. Les Amis and the Ambassador’s staff are currently looking at possible dates for the two events. In the interim, planning for the commemoration is already underway.

Please continue to follow this blog for updates on the ceremony and reception.