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, March 31, 2012

Beauford's Paris: Ile Saint-Louis

Quai d'Orléans and Notre Dame Cathedral Viewed from the Left Bank
© Discover Paris!

American writer James Jones and his family lived in an apartment building on quai'd'Orléans, Ile Saint-Louis from 1958-1975. James Baldwin introduced him to Beauford in Paris in 1958. According to David A. Leeming's biography Amazing Grace: A Life of Beauford Delaney, the Joneses became so fond of Beauford that they eventually gave him a key to their apartment and invited him over frequently. They also commissioned several paintings from him. Jones supported his application for a Fairfield Foundation grant in 1964 and gave Beauford a tribute at his October 1964 one-man show at the Galerie Lambert (no longer in existence) at number 14 on the island's main thoroughfare, rue Saint-Louis en l'Ile. Five years later, Jones would comment at another of Beauford's shows that he was "the complete artist, not just in the medium of paint but in the medium of life."

Rue Saint-Louis en l'Ile
© Discover Paris!

Most of the information that I have found about the Jones' abode indicates that it was located at 10, quai d'Orléans. One story published by the James Jones Literary Society indicates that the Joneses lived on the second floor. As I walked along the quay yesterday, I decided to look for the building and take a photo of the place where Beauford spent so much time over the years. Curiously, I found no edifice that bears the number 10 on its façade.

Because of a description in Frommer's Paris from $95 a Day, which indicates that the Joneses lived on the corner of rue Budé and quai d'Orléans, I must assume that the "round cornered" building pictured below is indeed the place. (12, quai d'Orléans is plainly indicated on the façade of the building on the opposite corner of the intersection.)

10, quai d'Orléans
© Discover Paris!

The corner windows in this building overlook the Seine, where the Joneses and their visitors - including Beauford - enjoyed a view of pont Saint-Louis and the flying buttresses at the rear of Notre Dame Cathedral.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

33rd Anniversary of Beauford's Passing

Monday, March 26th will be the 33rd anniversary of Beauford's death.

The photo below graces the stone that Les Amis de Beauford Delaney had installed at Beauford's final resting place in Thiais Cemetery in 2010.

Portrait of Beauford Delaney
(ca. 1950)
Possibly by Gjon Mili

Beauford was "all about art." I'd like to celebrate this anniversary date by sharing with you some of my favorite works by this magnificent artist and humble human spirit.

Untitled (Abstract Composition)
(1961) Oil monotype on heavy wove paper
Photo courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries

Woman in White
(1964-65) Oil on canvas
Photo from Bill Hodges Gallery Web site

Still Life with Pears
(1946) Oil on canvas
Image from the Artsmia.org Website

Portrait of a Man in Green
Beauford Delaney
Oil (undated)
Photo from catalog of Beauford Delaney: A Retrospective
Studio Museum in Harlem

Composition 16
(1954-56) Oil on canvas
© Estate of Beauford Delaney; Private Collection
Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York , NY

Beauford Delaney
Oil on canvas (1944)
Art Institute of Chicago

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Beauford at the Armory Show 2012

The Armory Show was held from March 8-11, 2012 at Piers 92 and 94 in Manhattan. Pier 92 was dedicated to international dealers specializing in historically significant Modern and contemporary art. The Michael Rosenfeld Gallery had exhibit space at Pier 92 and showed three of Beauford's paintings among the works of forty artists:

(1958) Gouache on paper
25 1/2" x 19 5/8", signed and dated
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York , NY

(1959) Gouache on paper
25 5/8" x 19 3/4", signed and dated
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York , NY

(1959) Gouache on paper
25" x 19 5/8", signed and dated
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York , NY

All of these works were produced during Beauford's Paris years, when he lived in the suburban town of Clamart. During the summer of 1958, he began using color in his paintings to convey the tumult of his inner life - to embrace and confront it as opposed to repelling it through painting as he had done previously. By the end of the year, he was preparing for two group shows to be held in 1959.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Radio France Interview: Philippe Briet and Darthea Speyer Talk about Beauford

I had the unexpected pleasure of receiving a call from Catherine de la Clergerie of Radio France a few days ago. She told me that she remembers seeing Beauford frequently at Le Select in Montparnasse and wanted to offer me a recording of part of an interview that Radio France recorded with Philippe Briet and Darthea Speyer at the Darthea Speyer Gallery in 1992. The subject: Beauford!

Darthea Speyer Gallery
© Discover Paris!

The roughly 30-minute recording begins with the voice of Darthea Speyer explaining why she decided to mount a retrospective of Beauford's work in 1992. She mentioned that Philippe Briet had mounted a Beauford retrospective a few years earlier and said that she felt she should have done one herself years ago. She also reflected that she should have mounted her first one-man show (1973) of Beauford's work earlier, before his health began to decline.

The majority of the interview featured Phillipe Briet. Briet explained how he discovered Beauford's work at the Studio Museum of Harlem and how each painting that he was able to view evoked in him "profound joy." He recounted how he sought out those who had loaned Beauford's works to the retrospective that was held at the Studio Museum of Harlem in 1978, Richard A. Long as curator of the retrospective, and eventually Darthea Speyer and Solange du Closel in Paris.

What was most interesting about the interview was listening to Briet talk about Beauford as a person. Though he never met Beauford, he expressed definite opinions about Beauford's personality and characteristics. He described Beauford as "one of the most positive beings that one could know in the 20th century." He saw Beauford as a "mystic," someone who was interested in the "soul" of things. He expressed his belief that Beauford's life was one of "solitude, reflection, and concentration."

Philippe Briet
Photo courtesy of Catherine de la Clergerie

Briet said that if he had to cite the work of American abstract expressionist painters whose work "approached" that of Beauford with regard to "sensitivity," he would select Clyfford Still and Mark Tobey. He believed that Beauford's interest in light could not be compared to that of the Impressionists, who were concerned with the physical aspects of light and its effect on objects. He thought that Beauford's work was much more powerful and compared it to that of Rembrandt.

Regarding Beauford's habit of draping his studios in white sheets, Briet considered that this represented Beauford's desire to "see" silence, to be able to look into eternity, to look into time. He saw gravity and pain in Beauford's face as Beauford represented himself in his self-portraits. He thought that the fact that Beauford painted both abstract and figurative works might represent what Beauford saw through his own eyes when he was alone (abstract) juxtaposed with what others saw in the absolute sense (figurative).

Briet said that few artists have the ambition and the pride to have a sense of eternity. This is what he looked for in art - works that made him reflect on time and would make those seeing the works centuries later reflect on time as well. He considered such works to be true art and felt that Beauford's work had this quality.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Beauford at the Whitney Studio Galleries - 1930

According to David A. Leeming, author of Amazing Grace: A Life of Beauford Delaney:

Beauford's first major break as a painter came in January 1930 when he approached a woman named Mungo Park about his work. Park worked at the Whitney Studio Galleries, which would become the Whitney Museum of American Art the following year.

Original location of the Whitney Studio Galleries
8-12 West 8th Street, Manhattan
Photo by Beyond My Ken from Wikipedia

Park looked at Beauford's portfolio of drawings and introduced him to Juliana Force, director of purchasing and exhibition at the Whitney. Force offered Beauford the chance to exhibit his art at a four-person show that ran from February 26 to March 8, 1930, with the only stipulation being that he produce additional pieces for the event. He worked diligently, and entered the exhibit with three oil portraits and nine pastels.

Juliana Force
Photo from Flickr

Beauford won first prize at this show for a pastel drawing of Billy Pierce, who was his employer at the time. Pierce was the owner of a dance school where Beauford had begun making a name for himself with his pastel and charcoal drawings of the school's dancers and clients. These drawings were part of the portfolio that Beauford showed to Mungo Park to earn a place in the show.

The remaining drawings that Beauford entered in the Whitney show were all awarded honorable mention.

As a result of his interaction with Miss Park and Mrs. Force, the Whitney offered Beauford a job as caretaker and offered him living space and a studio in the basement of the building. This was the beginning of his stay in Greenwich Village.