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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Beauford at MRG - It's Not Your Nature

The Michael Rosenfeld Gallery's summer exhibition entitled It's Not Your Nature features 25 artists. Two magnificent works by Beauford are included in the show.

Untitled (Trees) is from Beauford's New York period. Dated circa 1945, it comes from a time when Beauford created many cityscapes at his Greene Street studio.

Untitled (Trees)
(c. 1945) Oil on canvas
29 1/8" x 23 1/8", signed
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator
Image courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY

Untitled (Abstraction #7), dated 1964, is from Beauford's Paris years. He was living at his rue Vercingétorix studio when he painted this work.

Untitled (Abstraction #7)
(1964) Oil on canvas
51 1/4" x 38 1/4", signed and dated
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator
Image courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY

1964 was the year that Beauford had a one-man show at the Galerie Lambert. Biographer David A. Leeming says that he worked "both on portraits and abstractions dominated by his favorite yellow." Leeming also says that a yellow abstraction displayed during a group show at the Galerie Internationale d'Art Contemporaine during the spring of the year was praised as "an emanation of the sun in which one finds all seasons but winter, and light is filtered through the painter's tone and touch."

Untitled (Abstraction #7) may well be one of the paintings described above.

It's Not Your Nature runs through August 5 2016.

Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC
100 Eleventh Avenue @ 19th
New York, NY 10011
(212) 247-0082

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Beauford's "The Burning Bush" in "Modern Heroics" Exhibition at the Newark Museum

The Newark Museum is currently holding a six-month exhibition of African-American expressionist art called Modern Heroics: 75 Years of African-American Expressionism at the Newark Museum. It opens today.

The museum's Web page describes the show as featuring "34 paintings and sculptural works with an emphasis on storytelling and expressive imagery" and says that it "brings together rarely exhibited works by leading historical and contemporary African-American artists, placing in dialogue several generations and a range of self-taught and formally trained approaches."

In an article that I published several years ago, I reported that the Newark Museum holds two Beauford Delaney works and that only one was on display. This work, called The Burning Bush, is part of the Modern Heroics exhibition. Dated 1941, the year that Beauford revealed himself publicly as a modernist (according to biographer David A. Leeming), it is the earliest work included in the exhibition.

The Burning Bush
(1941) Oil on paperboard
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

The introduction for the exhibition catalog, written by Tricia Laughlin Bloom, Curator of American Art, describes The Burning Bush as follows:

A compact, thickly painted composition of an abstract landscape, The Burning Bush reinterprets the Old Testament story in which God appeared to Moses as a burning bush: divinity and nature seem to converge in this forceful scene.

Regarding Beauford and his relationship with the museum, Bloom says:

Delaney happened to play an important role in building Newark’s permanent collection of African-American art. In 1943 he made a gift to the Museum of a work on paper made that year, titled Portrait of a Man. This pastel drawing became the second work by an African-American artist to enter Newark’s permanent collection.

Portrait of a Man
(1943) Pastel on paper
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

A series of handwritten and typed letters between Delaney and Beatrice Windsor (director of the Newark Museum from 1929 to 1947) reveals a simple but significant exchange that was catalyzing for the growth of the collection. Ms. Windsor, who knew Delaney personally, made a gift to him of several frames, and as a gesture of thanks Delaney made a gift to the Museum of his work.

In the correspondence between Delaney and Windsor both expressed sincere appreciation for the other’s gift, and the following year Newark organized its first original show dedicated to African-American art—an exhibition to which Delaney, Norman Lewis, Romare Bearden and ten other artists lent their work directly.

Nearly half of the artists included in that 1944 show are now represented in Newark’s permanent collection, a living testament to the Museum’s commitment to the art of today.

During the Modern Heroics exhibition, The Burning Bush will be displayed in the featured exhibition space on the first floor of the museum.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Adeline Goldminc-Tronzo Remembers Beauford

Adeline Goldminc-Tronzo is a French artist who moved to New York City in the mid 1970s. She studied at the Art Students League with American Artists: Marshall Glasier, Joseph Hirsch, Robert Beverly Hale, and Norman Lewis. She holds a BFA in Art and Philosophy.

Adeline wrote to me after having discovered the Les Amis blog. She wanted to share a photo of Beauford that was taken before his death at Sainte-Anne's Hospital in Paris. She also shared the story of how she came to know Beauford and Beauford's brother, Joseph, and graciously granted her permission for me to publish them here.


Beauford at Sainte-Anne's Hospital - 1978
Image courtesy of Adeline Goldminc-Tronzo

The year was 1968. As a kid - and I mean a kid (I was 15 years old) - I would escape my family and go to Montparnasse to hang out with artists.

One of these artists was Anton Prinner (a Hungarian artist) and sometimes Beauford would come to the Coupole and hang out at Prinner's table. And I had the privilege to be there a few times. Beauford did not speak French and I was a kid and hardly spoke English.

He was a quiet man - a soulful, dreamy presence.

And the striking memory I have is of Beauford's most beautiful hands. They really were beautiful!

Years later, as a very young adult, I moved to NY. While there, I befriended Jo (Joseph) Delaney. A beautiful soul as well.

Jo mentioned a brother once or twice but never by name and where he lived ...

Then one day, he mentioned Beauford and it was amazing! How I could meet these two brothers in two different countries, eight years apart?

Serendipity.

Jo was very worried about Beauford. He told me he was at Sainte-Anne Hospital in Paris and that the French government had taken all his work and Jo could not go there because JO was broke and didn't understand the legalese, the language etc ....

And apparently James Baldwin had moved to the south and could no longer be of much help for Beauford at that point.

It was a heartbreaking story.

I was to visit my parents in Paris and there Beauford was - having an exhibit at the Studio Museum in Harlem. Jo asked me to go to the hospital and to try and help Beauford.

So I went to Paris and visited with Beauford at Sainte Anne's, giving him the catalog for the exhibition at the Studio Museum. But Beauford was in another place. I mean he was there but he could no longer communicate. He kept looking at his hands...those beautiful hands!

I returned to visit him a couple more times...brought him socks and pajamas and talked, talked about his brother, about his exhibit, about painting...

I do not know if Beauford understood. He never talked. He was in another world.

I returned to NY and saw Jo until I moved to California. When I returned from California a couple of years later, Jo was no longer in his Union Square place.

And I never saw Jo again.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Beauford at the International James Baldwin Conference in Paris

In the Entrée to Black Paris blog from Thursday, June 2, I reported on the International James Baldwin conference that was hosted by the American University of Paris from May 26-28, 2016.

You might well imagine that Beauford's relationship with James Baldwin was discussed during the conference. At least five presenters discussed it in depth or focused exclusively on it:

Deborah Tulani Salahu-Din of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture spoke about the relationship between Baldwin and Beauford and the inclusion of the Smithsonian's portrait of James Baldwin by Beauford in their Making the Way gallery.

James Baldwin
(1963) Pastel on Paper
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institute
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

James Smalls of the University of Maryland presented "James Baldwin and Beauford Delaney; The Color of Light" and showed images of several of Beauford's portraits of Baldwin.

Portrait of James Baldwin
(1945) Oil on canvas
Philadelphia Museum of Art
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

This particular portrait appeared in an unexpected form at the opening plenary session of the conference!

Portrait of James Baldwin on T-shirt
© Discover Paris!

In the panel discussion called "'The Light Was Always Changing': James Baldwin (Re)Sighted," Tyler Schmidt of Lehman College, CUNY in the Bronx spoke about Beauford's Rosa Parks series and his Street Sweeper in the context of Beauford's concern with the Civil Rights movement in the U.S.

Rosa Parks
(1967) Oil on canvas
Image courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York, NY
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Street Sweeper (Le Balayeur)
(1968) Oil on canvas
Image courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

During the same panel, in a talk entitled "James Baldwin, Beauford Delaney, and Light," freelance curator/writer/art historian Lizzetta LeFalle Collins spoke of why and how she believes that Baldwin and Beauford shared a creative process for writing and painting, respectively.

She read the passage from Baldwin's essay about the evolution of Beauford's work during the Clamart years and showed an image of one of Beauford's abstracts from that period, which she compared to a photo of a private garden behind a house a few doors down from Beauford and Baldwin’s Clamart home.

Private garden on rue Paul Vaillant Couturier
© Les Amis de Beauford Delaney

I presented "Beauford and Baldwin: Paris Stomping Grounds," which was a slide show of many of the favorite hangouts and places where Beauford and Baldwin lived in Paris - and beyond. I also spoke of the recent Resonance of Form and Vibration of Color exhibition.

Monique shows the Beauford Delaney catalog
© Discover Paris!

It was gratifying to hear several people declare how much they appreciate this blog as a rich source of information about Beauford!