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 30, 2012

Beauford in Boston: Copley Square and Black Beacon Hill

I visited Boston this week and was anxious to see some of the places that Beauford frequented during the six years that he lived here in the mid- to late 1920s. What I know of this period comes from Beauford's biography - Amazing Grace. I took photos of several locations mentioned in the biography and am pleased to share them with you in this posting, which is the first of two that explore "Beauford in Boston."

Beauford frequented the Boston Public Library at Copley Square. An avid reader, he spent a good deal of time there.

Boston Public Library
© Discover Paris!

Trinity Church dominates Copley Square. George Ruffin, a close friend of Beauford and a member of a prominent black Boston family, was a soloist at this church. Beauford attended many concerts there.

Trinity Church viewed from Dartmouth Street
© Discover Paris!

The Ruffins lived on Charles Street, which traverses Beacon Hill. Beauford attended the Charles Street Meeting House, located at the corner of Mt. Vernon Street and Charles Street on the north slope of the hill. This side of the hill was more densely populated and integrated than the southern slope that faces Boston Common.

Charles Street Meeting House
© Discover Paris!

The meeting house was constructed by the Third Baptist Church of Boston in 1807. The congregation maintained segregated seating. Timothy Gilbert, a white member of the congregation, was expelled during the 1830s for inviting black friends to sit with him in his pew. Gilbert and others went on to found the First Baptist Free Church - one of the first integrated churches in America.

In 1876, the AME Church purchased the Charles Street building. It served as the congregation's home until 1939 and occupied the church at the time that Beauford lived in Boston (1923-1929).

Beauford's biography indicates that Beauford admired the old homes on Beacon Hill and especially liked those on Louisburg Square.

Louisburg Square, 1930
Photographer: Leon H. Abdalian
Source: Wikipedia Commons

Louisburg Square today
© Discover Paris!

The Charles Street Meeting House is a featured stop and Louisburg Square is on the route followed by Boston's Black Heritage Trail.

Black Heritage Trail Sign
© Discover Paris!

I highly recommend this walk, which is organized by the National Park Service. For information, visit www.nps.gov/boaf.

Next week: The Public Gardens and Boston Common

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Beauford in Spain

A trip to Valencia, Spain last weekend inspired me to reflect on Beauford's travels to this beautiful country.

Beach and Mediterranean Sea at Valencia, Spain
© Discover Paris!

Beauford traveled to Spain several times after moving to Paris. In 1955, he went to Madrid with his dear friend Larry Calcagno. Calcagno's work was being exhibited at the Gallery Clan and the two men went to see the show. Calcagno was able to persuade the gallery to hold a show for Beauford that June - one that was quite successful because it was Beauford's first solo show in Europe and because several paintings were sold.

In August 1956, Calcagno took Beauford to Ibiza and Majorca (3-4 hours from Valencia via rapid ferry). Ibiza was where Beauford first experienced Fauré's Requiem, the music in which he would later find solace after his mother died. According to biographer David Leeming, Beauford loved the colors of the Mediterranean and painted many watercolors while there.

Charley and Rita Boggs took Beauford to San Telmo, Majorca after his breakdown in Greece in 1961. This trip was therapeutic for him and though it was not as carefree as his previous visits to the area, he did manage to paint some watercolors there.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Beauford and Marian Anderson

Beauford loved Marian Anderson and her music. He captured her likeness in many sketches and paintings, including a portrait painted in 1965.

Marian Anderson
(1965) Oil on canvas
Photo from Harvard Gazette Archives

In 1956, he heard her perform in a "thrilling concert"* in Paris.

Anderson performed Kindertotenlieder by Gustav Mahler at this event. She sang in German, accompanied by the French National Radio Orchestra, at the Théatre des Champs-Elysées on November 22nd. The conductor of the orchestra was Jascha Horenstein.

Théâtre des Champs-Elysées
© Discover Paris!

While I have not been able to access any excerpts of the recording made of this concert, I was able to find recordings of Anderson performing the same music accompanied by the San Francisco Orchestra in 1950. Click here to listen!

*Amazing Grace: A Life of Beauford Delaney, by David Leeming

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Beauford and Mary Painter

Les Amis de Beauford Delaney recently received the wonderful gift of a copy of James Baldwin's Going to Meet the Man that contains a handwritten dedication from Beauford to his dear friend Mary Painter. Many thanks to Catherine Manini for donating the book to Les Amis as a result of her search for information about Beauford and Baldwin.

One of Beauford's best friends in Paris was Mary Painter. She was an American economist who worked on the Marshall Plan after World War II and at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, among other places. Beauford met her because of her friendship with James Baldwin. Beauford met Painter in 1953 on his first full day in Paris - the day that Baldwin saw Beauford walking along boulevard Saint Germain in front of the Café de Flore. Baldwin was at the Flore having a drink with Painter at the time.

Paris - Café de Flore
ca. 1950 © Roger-Viollet

Painter was present at memorable moments in Beauford's life in Paris. For example, she attended the party held at Beauford's studio at the Hôtel des Ecoles in December 1955, after which the hotel's owner accused Beauford of putting up a guest without paying. This incident led to Beauford's move to Clamart, and he called upon Painter to help him pack. She was in Paris at the time that Beauford was mourning the death of his mother in 1958, and invited Beauford to spend as much time at her apartment as he wished. Beauford visited London for the first time with Painter in December 1963.

It seems fitting, therefore, that Beauford would give a copy of the London publication of James Baldwin's book Going to Meet the Man to Mary as a Christmas gift. Baldwin dedicated the novel to Beauford, and Beauford wrote a personal dedication to Painter in the copy that he gave to her.

Book images courtesy of Les Amis de Beauford Delaney

Beauford's friends Bernard Hassell and Richard Olney lived in Solliès-Toucas, a town near Toulon, in the early 1960s. Painter accompanied Beauford on a visit there in 1963, and would move there herself ten years later. Beauford produces an abstract painting called Solliès-Toucas in 1963. It is now held by Aaron Galleries in Glenview, IL (near Chicago).

Solliès Toucas
(Beauford's gift to Roy Freeman)
(1963) Oil on canvas
Image courtesy of Roy Freeman

Saturday, June 2, 2012

re-Searching Beauford Delaney: An Uneven Introduction

E.L. Kornegay, Jr. contributed two postings to the Les Amis blog in 2011: Beauford Delaney: The Artisan as Witness and Why Artisan? Thinking about Beauford. He has completed his doctoral research on James Baldwin, including Beauford’s influence on Baldwin, and is now turning his attention to a full-fledged scholarly investigation of Beauford’s life and work. I am thrilled to present his latest contribution to the blog, which recounts the first steps on his journey to re-Search Beauford!


The “Lovely Fortress”
re-Searching Beauford Delaney: An Uneven Introduction

by E. L. Kornegay, Jr., Ph. D.

This is the first reflection in a series that chronicles my research on Beauford Delaney. It is through collaborating with Monique Wells that I am guided into the work, life, and spirit of the Lovely Fortress: Beauford Delaney.

I recently visited the Art Institute of Chicago with a singular purpose in mind: to view the work of Beauford Delaney. I had secured an opportunity that gave me access to his works held in storage and the chance to thumb through some of the research associated with the man and his art.

I was told to go to a back entrance, next to the loading dock, where I would be given a visitor’s pass and made to wait for my contact. There on the side of the building, surrounded by the sights and sounds of the unceremonious off-loading of items heading into the guts of the building, security personnel methodically earning their hourly wage, and a handful of men hanging a poster on a wall next to me, I waited to begin my search for Beauford.

On the surface this description might seem superfluous, an unrelated and unworthy accoutrement to this research project and process. However, I think it conveys a perspective: one that is reflective of how to approach Beauford in order to properly research his work, his life, and his spirit. I was not brought through the front of the Art Institute, to walk up the main steps, on the Avenue, through its impressive galleries as an invited guest. No. Visiting Beauford required an alternative route, through a back door, off the beaten path, rather unnoticed, without fanfare, and disregarded. I knew, right then, that there is something unique about what I am encountering in the way of re-Searching Beauford.

Immediately I shifted my expectations from the cerebral to the spiritual: I was not a scholar doing research, but a guest of Beauford. re-Searching means that I am re-introducing myself to Beauford in a very personal, very intimate, and very spiritual way. The word "re-Search" is a neologism intended to signify différence in my approach to Beauford. I am beginning to see Beauford for myself and in doing so re-determining, re-visiting, re-inventing, what his work, life, and spirit means to me and for me. So, it was not meant for me to come through the front door as a guest might do, but through the back door as a family member or a familiar friend might do: différence!

I met someone – a lady (I am intentionally leaving her unnamed) – who whisked me down, and I do mean down, a service corridor to a vault in the belly of the building. There inside of the vault I saw for the very first time, Beauford’s work in person. It was an untitled abstract painted in 1965.

Untitled by Beauford Delaney
(1965) Oil on canvas
© E.L. Kornegay, Jr.

The colors were vibrant! I could see the artistry and craftsmanship: it was as if he had left a message securely placed within the painting itself. The message expressed control, lucidity, with a subtle protest against any attempts to segregate hues one from another. The colors were a commanding blend of pigments, a lovely fortress holding and protecting a message of togetherness for anyone who was willing to search for it. All of the colors belonged together and from behind them and in between the colors all sorts of visual possibilities emerge. The spirituality of love gets expressed in the work of Beauford.

Untitled by Beauford Delaney (detail)
(1965) Oil on canvas
© E.L. Kornegay, Jr.

For twenty or so minutes I studied the painting. I sought angles and distances, I moved about it creating a dialogue between my eyes, mind and spirit. The distance I felt in my initial entrance into the Art Institute was abated by the warmth I felt viewing and re-Searching Beauford’s painting. It was a wonderful “hello”!

I am just beginning to do more in-depth research into Beauford Delaney. The lack of fanfare, the common view of the world, the back door of human life and culture – its pigmentation – is what Beauford masterfully manipulated. In order to see what he sees, you must enter the world from his point of view: not through the front door, but from the back or the side, maybe the underside where the pillars upon which the world is built hold the most beauty and the most love.