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, July 28, 2012

Tending Beauford's Gravesite

Thursday was an absolutely gorgeous day in Paris, so my husband Tom and I took the opportunity to visit Beauford's gravesite. Because the finishing touches were being placed on his tombstone in July / August 2010, our visit represented an anniversary of sorts (see the sidebar for before and after photos).

I was pleased to see that the 86th Division had been recently cleared of overgrowing vegetation. The gravestone itself is in impeccable condition - all that I needed to do was clear a few stray pebbles and stones, remove soil and debris from beneath the ceramic flower arrangement, spray it, and wipe it down.

Tending the gravesite
© Discover Paris!

The money for renewal of the gravesite concession is once again due, but neither I nor Les Amis de Beauford Delaney can submit payment before Spring 2013. This date represents the expiration of the grace period during which a Delaney family member or a legal representative of Beauford's estate can come forward to renew the concession or make other arrangements for Beauford.

In the interim, I am comforted to know that the stone that Les Amis and so many contributors worked to have placed at the grave is as handsome and befitting of Beauford's dignity and spirit as the day it was laid.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Beauford's Art - Monotypes

In surfing the Web the other day, I came across an interesting tidbit of information about Beauford's art: he created monotypes - prints that are produced using a technique through which a painted image is transferred through pressure to a sheet of paper, producing a unique impression.

Searching further, I found images of two of Beauford's monotypes that Swann Galleries auctioned in 2008 and 2010. The gallery describes the first print as a "possible self-portrait":

Untitled (Smiling Man)
(circa 1960-65) Color oil monotype
Photo courtesy of Swann Galleries

The second work is described as follows:
This striking and large montoype dates from the summer of 1966 when Beauford Delaney traveled to Istanbul to visit James Baldwin after attending the Venice Biennale.

Untitled (Istanbul, Turkey)
(1966) Oil monotype on thick cream wove paper
Photo courtesy of Swann Galleries

The "self-portrait" sold for $30,000 at auction in 2008, while the painting of Istanbul was unsold in 2010.

The Istanbul painting was illustrated in the catalog of an exposition of American monotypes called Singular Impressions: The Monotype in America that was mounted by the National Museum of American Art at The Smithsonian in 1997. Beauford's painting did not actually hang at this exposition.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Invitation to a Gathering of Souls

Last month, E.L. Kornegay, Jr. contributed the first of a series of articles that explore his experiences and reflections in the scholarly pursuit of Beauford's life and art. Today he brings us Part Two of "re-Searching Beauford Delaney."


“Invitation to a Gathering of Souls”
re-Searching Beauford Delaney: Part Two

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

I cannot say, with all honesty, that I ever imagined I would get this close to Beauford Delaney. Yet, here I am feeling in some way that it was intended for me to be standing in the midst of his memory and his artistic legacy.

There are many who both love and appreciate Beauford Delaney. In fact my formal introduction into his world came by way of a chance third party connection to Monique Wells. She was in Chicago to do a presentation on Beauford Delaney and the efforts of Les Amis. While we were unfortunately unable to meet face-to-face, Monique graciously chatted with me over the phone. She is the first soul I would encounter gathered around Beauford. This leads me to say while I first heard of Beauford through my research on James Baldwin, I feel that I was formally introduced to Beauford through Monique.

This is at the heart of what I feel is so much of who Beauford Delaney was in life and what keeps him alive in the hearts and minds of many. Beauford’s art gives his soul tangibility. His art is a tangible expression of his soul and an invitation to be in his company.

Beauford among his paintings
Photo from Darthea Speyer Gallery Invitation to
1973 Beauford Delaney Solo Exposition

I am beginning to see Beauford’s art as a collection of invitations: a history of the souls he encountered. Seeing him standing amongst his paintings, whether it is the work of his early period, first in Boston and then New York or the latter period in Europe, a sense of community emerges. These images are not a collection of paintings: each is a uniquely crafted expression of a soul he met or souls he felt and could only gauge abstractly. I can only imagine the beauty behind the madness of feeling but not knowing, and the power it took to capture it on canvas. As such, it seems to me that Beauford would think it strange to see him apart from his art – to be located alongside its beauty yet somehow separated from the madness. Beauford moves amongst his art, a gleeful host cherishing the wild and peaceful presence of colorful souls in his space. Beauford did not create a collection of art: Beauford Delaney proffered a gathering of souls.

As I encounter, one by one, the paintings of Beauford, I sense that each piece is insistent. Each work invites you not merely to view it, but to encounter its presence and to feel what you see inside of its colors, shapes, and textures. This goes on from one painting to another in the way a conversation amongst friends flows naturally when gathered together. The gift of seeing his paintings as a whole is to be invited into a cloud of witnesses. You cannot know one: you must know them all.

I am grateful for the invitation and awestruck by the gathering of souls around Beauford Delaney. Henry Miller writes “Beauford was an artist before birth; he was an artist in the womb…”1 In other words Beauford painted from his soul: even before he was formed in his mother’s womb. So Beauford paints to gather us together and invites us to remember those things before we were formed, where beauty is pure and madness is a mirage.

1Henry Miller, The Amazing and Invariable Beauford Delaney. (New York: New Directions), 1941.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Beauford in Boston: Public Garden and Boston Common

Last week, I shared several photos of Copley Place and the north slope of Beacon Hill - areas that Beauford frequented when he lived in Boston (1923-1929). In the same spirit, today I bring you photos of the Public Garden and Boston Common.

Public Garden
© Discover Paris!

In Amazing Grace: A Life of Beauford Delaney, David A. Leeming describes how Beauford wandered around the old city during his first months in Boston. He talks of the Wendell Phillips Memorial Statue in the Public Garden as a place where Beauford listened to speeches and lectures.

Wendell Phillips Memorial
© Discover Paris!

He indicates that Beauford met Nobel Prize winner Sinclair Lewis at the Garden and indicates that Beauford heard John Haynes Holmes preach at the Community Church of Boston located just south of the Garden on Carver Street (renamed Charles Street South). He also mentions Beauford's first "intimate experience," a sexual encounter that took place in one of the swan boats on the pond in the garden.

Swan boats at Public Garden
© Discover Paris!

Leeming devotes an entire paragraph to Beauford's admiration of the Robert Gould Shaw and Massachusetts 54th Regiment Memorial in the Boston Common.

Robert Gould Shaw and Massachusetts 54th Regiment Memorial
© Discover Paris!

The bronze sculpture is the first stop on Boston's Black Heritage Trail.

Black Heritage Trail Sign
© Discover Paris!

Created in 1897 by Augustus Saint-Gaudens in honor of the first black military regiment recruited by the North during the Civil War, it faces the Massachusetts State House - a building that Beauford admired.

Massachusetts State House (Beacon Street entrance)
© Discover Paris!

I learned a great deal about this sculpture from Ranger Todd MacGowen of the National Park Service*. MacGowan pointed out how the soldiers are portrayed with solemn dignity, each with distinct facial features. This contrasts with the generic, stereotypical way that blacks were portrayed in art during the era.

Robert Gould Shaw and Massachusetts 54th Regiment Memorial (detail-1)
© Discover Paris!

Robert Gould Shaw and Massachusetts 54th Regiment Memorial (detail-2)
© Discover Paris!

He also indicated that while the horse in the sculpture appears skittish and frightened (eyes bulging, nostrils flared, mouth open), the soldiers appear calm and determined.

Robert Gould Shaw and Massachusetts 54th Regiment Memorial (detail-3)
© Discover Paris!

The 54th Regiment, led by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw of Boston, left Boston to go to war by marching down Beacon Street in front of the State House. Several surviving members of the regiment attended the dedication ceremony for the memorial 34 years later.

*The National Park Service has organized a guided walking tour of the Black Heritage Trail, which I highly recommend. For information, visit www.nps.gov/boaf.