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, April 27, 2013


I am thrilled to share the news below about Beauford's estate!


Levis Fine Art is pleased to announce the opening of Beauford Delaney: Internal Light, an exhibition of the extraordinary artistic legacy from the Paris period (1953-1972) of this modern master, who exhibited in museums throughout Europe and the United States. Many of these historically significant paintings have not been viewed since the artist’s landmark 1978 exhibition, Beauford Delaney: A Retrospective was held at the Studio Museum in Harlem. The solo exhibition will run from May 9 through June 15, 2013.

The images shown in this post represent a few of the paintings that will be displayed during the exposition:

Abstraction #12, 1963
Oil on canvas
51.5 x 38.5 inches

Waning Light: Abstraction, 1963
Oil on canvas
51 1/8 x 38 1/8 inches (130 x 97 cm)

It is broadly recognized that Delaney’s Paris works are among the most significant of his body of work. A number of these Paris-period works to be shown were rescued from Delaney’s apartment shortly before his death. About to be seized by the French Government and auctioned to satisfy delinquent accounts, the paintings were shipped to New York through the efforts of a coterie of the artist’s devoted friends including James Baldwin, Henry Miller, Richard Powell and Richard Long*. These paintings would form the core of the 1978 retrospective.

Untitled: Street Sweeper, 1966
Marker and mixed media on paper
21 x 14.5 inches

Abstract in Orange and Red, 1963
Gouache on wove paper
25.75 x 19.625 inches

Portrait of Ahmed Bioud, 1968
Oil on canvas
26 x 21 inches

After thirty-five years of uncertain fate, and the enormous efforts over the past seven years by the estate’s court-appointed Administrator, Derek Spratley, many of these estate paintings have been recovered and are now being presented for the first time in this exhibition, opening to the public on May 9th. A fully illustrated color catalog with essay by Lilly Wei, New York-based independent curator and art critic, will be available. Levis Fine Art is proud to represent the estate of Beauford Delaney.

Levis Fine Art
514 West 24th Street
New York, NY 10011
(646) 620-5000
Contact: James Levis
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10am-6pm or by appointment

*A commemorative reception for Richard A. Long will be held at the Galerie Intemporel, 37, rue Quincampoix, Paris 4e at 5 PM today.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Ealy Mays Talks about Beauford

Ealy Mays created the painting Beauford, What is the Price of a Ticket? as a tribute to Beauford. I featured this work in the January 13, 2013 post on this blog and have reprinted the image below.

I recently interviewed Mays for a two-part article* in an on-going series of articles on contemporary Black life in Paris that I publish in the Entrée to Black Paris blog. One of the questions that I asked was about Beauford. Read my question and his reply below:

ETBP: One of the painters who is a part of the abovementioned legacy is Beauford Delaney. You recently painted a work that was inspired by Beauford and honors him. Tell us about your creation of this work – why did you choose to honor Beauford among all the other painters you could have selected?

Ealy Mays: As it turns out, I have one of Beauford’s original paint boxes, which he had given to Ed Clark and which Ed passed on to me. I was looking through the paint box one day and I thought about the many stories related to me by Ed Clark and Herbert Gentry about their days in Paris, including experiences of the main characters of black literature and art scene at the time such as Beauford, James Baldwin, Richard Wright, Chester Himes, and many more, including incidents unveiled and played out at Haynes’ Restaurant.

Beauford's paint box
© Discover Paris!

While a certain level of neurosis often belies the genius within many artists, Beauford seemed to have been especially touched by both. He did not end up in a psychiatric institution to see the end of his life by accident. His entire life seemed to have condemned him to such an end. He was a man of great depth and sensitivity, and a man who suffered from a lack of acceptance due to his differences as well as from the exploitation of himself and of his work by those who were in positions to do so. Even in death, the failure to accept and recognize his talent and his legacy as an artist for so long, was yet another level of torture for his bereaved and already tortured soul.

Your association "Les Amis" and the work that you have done to secure Beauford some dignity in death, was to some degree necessitated by that continued neglect of Beauford’s legacy by society, by those who profited dearly off Beauford (some of whom are alive and well right here in Paris and are still very much in possession of his prized works), and by the African-American and overall American cultural establishment that forgot about Beauford’s contribution to our cultural heritage.

As an artist in Paris, there have been days when I saw and felt Beauford in me, days when I could understand some of the demons that plagued his genius, and days when I could empathize with the rejection and exploitation he must have experienced. I have had days in Paris when I simply sat back and thought to myself, "poor ole Beauford."

I had previously seen Jazz Quartet and liked the composition. I then wondered what the painting would look like outside of the church setting in which Beauford had painted it. I decided to pay him a tribute. I actually did several iterations of the compositions until I felt satisfied with the final one currently in my collection.

Beauford, What is the Price of a Ticket?
Ealy Mays
(2012) Acrylic on canvas
Image courtesy of the artist

Knowing the importance of the relationship between James Baldwin and Beauford (dating back to Baldwin’s encounter with Delaney as a teenager in New York’s Greenwich Village), and Baldwin’s tribute to Beauford in Price of a Ticket
The first living proof, for me, that a black man could be an artist. In a warmer time, a less blasphemous place, he would have been recognized as my teacher and I as his pupil. He became, for me, an example of courage and integrity, humility and passion. An absolute integrity: I saw him shaken many times and I lived to see him broken but I never saw him bow.

… I juxtaposed Baldwin’s title, Price of a Ticket, to pose Beauford a question: "Hey Beauford, What’s the Price of a Ticket?" The painting is a tribute to Beauford as well as to the art and literature from that era.

*Black Paris Profiles II: Ealy Mays - Part I
  Black Paris Profiles II: Ealy Mays - Part II

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Beauford at the Narratives of African American Art and Identity Exposition

This brilliantly colorful abstract by Beauford was displayed in the University of Maryland Art Gallery's exposition entitled Narratives of African American Art and Identity: The David C. Driskell Collection. The exhibit was mounted in conjunction with the announcement of the establishment of the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the African Diaspora in 1998.

(c. 1964) Oil on canvas
25.5 X 21.25 inches
© Estate of Beauford Delaney, by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire, Court Appointed Administrator

Beauford's painting was included in the section of the exposition entitled "Diaspora Identities - Global Arts" in the context of "transnational explorations" of diaspora identity.

Dr. Adrienne Childs, who is currently an associate of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard University, was the assistant curator for the exposition and managed the production of the catalog (published by Pomegranate Communications) for the show. The following is an excerpt of what she wrote about this work:
Beauford Delaney's untitled 1965 abstraction demonstrates the bold use of color and expressive brush work that is the hallmark of his oeuvre. ... Delaney's relationship with abstraction predated the notorious Abstract Expressionist movement, positioning him as a forerunner of one of the most important ideological and stylistic developments in twentieth-century American art. Although he chose not to identify himself with the movement, as the Abstract Expressionists began to gain notoriety in the late 1940s, Delaney's abstract work increasingly gained attention.
The David C. Driskell Collection includes drawings, paintings, prints, mixed media, and sculptures. It is housed at at the University of Maryland, College Park, MD.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Where to Find Beauford's Art: Knoxville Museum of Art

I am very pleased to share the news that the Knoxville Museum of Art (KMA) now houses the paintings for the Delaney estate! The estate executor has allowed the KMA to display the works shown below. Stephen C. Wicks, Barbara W. and Bernard E. Bernstein Curator for the museum, provides the commentary.


Scattered Light
(1964) Oil on canvas
36 5/8 X 28 3/4 inches
© Estate of Beauford Delaney, by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire, Court Appointed Administrator

Scattered Light appears to vibrate with a warm orange glow at first glance. Upon closer inspection one realizes this warm glow is produced by short, thick strokes of yellow, white, green, blue, and red oil pigment applied in dense clusters. For me, Scattered Light’s rich textures and vibrant colors are reminiscent of Monet’s paintings of Rouen Cathedral.

This work is currently hung beside a painting by Joseph Delaney from our collection that is being shown in the KMA’s ongoing flagship exhibition Higher Ground: A Century of the Visual Arts in East Tennessee. Joseph's Marble Collegiate Church (1974-75, oil on canvas, 72 X 47 3/4 inches) depicts a bustling Manhattan crowd dwarfed by a towering church spire and a turbulent sky. Its distinctive frame was designed and built by the artist. In 1986, Joseph returned to Knoxville and was artist-in-residence at University of Tennessee until his death in 1991.

Installation shot at the KMA showing Scattered Light (left) beside Joseph Delaney’s Marble Collegiate Church (right)
Photo courtesy of Knoxville Museum of Art

Higher Ground is housed in one of the two large top-floor galleries. A permanent installation, it traces the development of fine art in the region over the past century. It tells the largely unknown story of East Tennessee’s rich artistic history and its connections to the larger currents of American art. Featured works are drawn from the KMA collection along with selected works on loan from museums and private collections from around the country.

KMA owns several major paintings by Joseph, but none by Beauford. I consider our lack of Beauford’s work as the single most important acquisition goal for our museum.

Beauford's portrait of his niece Imogene Delaney now hangs in our new temporary exhibition Tradition Redefined: The Larry and Brenda Thompson Collection of African American Art, which is on view through June 16, 2013.

Portrait of Imogene Delaney
(1963) Oil on canvas
38 ½ x 31 inches
Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia
The Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Collection of African American Art
GMOA 2011.584

The portrait is made up predominantly of yellow pigment applied in flat, even strokes. Some orange hues appear in the upper 1/3 of the composition. Interestingly, Imogene appears to hover in space because Beauford opted to apply yellow over the area where her armchair would have appeared in order to erase any evidence of its existence.

The Thompsons' extensive collection redefines the landscape of African American art, offering an in-depth, inclusive understanding of artists and their aesthetic and social concerns. Featured artists include Radcliffe Bailey, Romare Bearden, Camille Billops, Beauford Delaney, Joseph Delaney, Lois Mailou Jones, Norman Lewis, and Hale Woodruff. The fact that Tradition Redefined allows viewers to consider Beauford’s and Joseph’s work within the larger context of African American art is one of the major reasons why the KMA was eager to bring the exhibition to Knoxville.

Tradition Redefined hangs in the lower galleries at the KMA. It was organized by the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland, College Park.