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 10, 2021

Musing with a Master Abstract Expressionist - Part 2

In Part 1 of this article, I presented images of three Beauford-inspired paintings created by Osiris Munir, President/CEO of Ankh Entertainment, host of the 15 Minutes interview series, and visual artist.  Based on an interview with her, I began to explore the similarities between her life and that of Beauford.

Part 2 looks at more of these similarities and share her musings about the conversation she'd like to have with Beauford.


Beauford traveled extensively in France and in Europe, often through invitations by friends. As often as possible, he painted wherever he went.

Untitled (Istanbul, Turkey)
(1966) Oil on thick, cream wove paper
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Munir enjoys traveling as well:

One of the similarities in the life of myself and Beauford Delaney’s is our love of travel and living outside of a box. I traveled and lived in Europe for a year. When I found out about the St. Germain district of Paris, I lost it. It seemed far more interesting and engaged than anything I had experienced in the U.S. The experience left me longing for deeper engagement with international culture and cultural activities and lifestyle outside the U.S.


In his New York Times obituary on Beauford, C. Gerald Fraser quotes NYT art critic John Russell, who said that Beauford was an “uninhibited colorist (though never an unintelligent one).” Biographer David Leeming refers to Beauford's primary interest in light and color many times in Amazing Grace: A Life of Beauford Delaney.

Munir speaks eloquently about her interpretation of the "muted" colors of The Three Are One and certain works by Beauford:

Orange is the color of the Sun - it offers hope and sheds light on untruths so that truth may be seen and lies may be exposed. Raw umber is an earth color - Giving a sense of belonging to something greater than myself and living a grounded and organic lifestyle as close to natural as possible. It is the darkness that hides beneath a smile or behind teeth that laugh. White for me is the clarity in thought and vision one gains after hours of looking deeply into a web of shapes, designs, and patterns . . . the visions that come and go as quickly as they came . . . the pain experienced when trying to fit into a world that is unwilling to allow you to just be.
Untitled (Yellow Abstraction) - detail
(c. 1958-1959) Oil on paper, laid down on canvas
Image courtesy of Aaron Galleries
© Estate of Beauford Delaney,
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator
The Three Are One - detail of one of three paintings
Osiris Munir
(2021) Oil on paperboard


Beauford journaled extensively about his harshly critical inner voices and his use of art to appease them, to silence them, and finally, to represent them on canvas as one would a person sitting for a portrait.

The Eye
(1965) Oil on canvas
Private Collection
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

He often shared feelings of loneliness and frustration in letters to his closest friends.

Through her book entitled Nita, Munir "painstakingly deals with topics of the human soul such as anger, forgiveness, loneliness, fear, depression, and mental health."


Beauford was often without sufficient funds to pay for the paints and other supplies that would allow him to work and keep his inner voices at bay.  Because of this, and because had a propensity to give money away when he did have it, his friends would buy him canvases and other art supplies so he could continue to work. The story of his "raincoat painting," which he created by painting on an old raincoat that he cut up and used for canvas, is well known.

Untitled (raincoat painting) by Beauford Delaney - recto and verso
(1954) Oil on raincoat fragment
Photos courtesy of Sue Canterbury
© Estate of Beauford Delaney,
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Munir recounts a similar experience:

I use brick paperboard for lack of having all of what I need . . . I never have additional money to buy great canvas, brushes and paints to use.  They are either given to me or I have to overlook an important bill to buy what I need instead.  Occasionally, I am able to get extra money to buy supplies to use for my one-room studio.


When asked what she would discuss with Beauford if she were able to sit down with him today, Munir responded:

If I could sit down with Beauford Delaney in 2021, we would talk about his being born too early and being prepared to fight for the rights of the LGBTQIA+ and the freedom for all people.

We would laugh about how the movement of the African aka Black American to free himself of slave mentality and to release the pain of the past and move towards the future without fear and how long and hard the journey has been and how much further we may or may not have to go. How slavery and the stigma of color and may never end but certainly has garnered global attention.

We would talk about politics and how it affects the life of the artist. How he is a muse and comfort to many. What he thought about European’s perspective on abstract art and its many forms of expression. How none are free until all are free.

We would talk about James Baldwin and his brilliance and how the two of them were ahead of their time.

We would talk about drug laws and whether they help or hurt us. We would talk about art. Colors. Sounds and feelings. I would ask what he thought of the philosophy of Bruce Lee.

We would talk about pain and suffering and how it makes for the brilliance and shine others see in us.

No comments: