Les Amis de Beauford Delaney is partnering with the Wells International Foundation (WIF) to take the Beauford Delaney: Resonance of Form and Vibration of Color exhibition to the U.S.!

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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Homage to Beauford: Douglas Petrovic

From time to time, I "Google" Beauford. When I do so, I inevitably stumble across something intriguing that I never knew about him. Such was the case a few days ago, when I found the logo below on a Web site called Artistes sans Frontières (Artists without Borders):

© Artistes sans Frontières/Douglas Petrovic, 2004

The site also posts a tribute to Beauford that is particularly touching. It was written by Douglas Petrovic, an artist who met Beauford at the Café Sélect in Paris. To further investigate, I sent a message to the Web site and received a response from Helga Strobl, one of the artists whose work is presented there. I learned that Douglas Petrovic was her husband and that he died two years ago.

Helga told me that Douglas shared with her stories of his early years in Paris when he met Beauford:

He had come to Paris in 68 at [the age of] 17...all alone, wanting to be an artist, studying art and surviving as he could. He met Beauford in the circles of artists and philosophers in the Montparnasse area and they became friends, Beauford a bit of a mentor, helping him sometimes. Whenever he spoke of him, it was fond memories he told me and he cherished the paintings of Beauford [that] he had - I still do.

Douglas founded Artistes sans Frontières in 2001 and the homage to Beauford page was one of the first that they created.

Here is my translation of Douglas' homage:

It was in November or December 1968 that I met Beauford Delaney at the café Sélect in Montparnasse in Paris while I took a little nap the morning after an all-nighter. He was sitting next to me and he woke me up because I was snoring too loudly.

As I had just arrived in France, I spoke only rudimentary French and we immediately began a conversation in English. After a few glasses of red wine, I learned from him that he arrived in France during the 1950s for a tour of Europe that he never did - rather, he stayed in Paris. I also learned that he was a painter and had done portraits of many celebrities like Louis Armstrong, Henry Miller, James Baldwin... Because I was only 17 years old, I knew these celebrities by name or by reading and that impressed me enormously.

Because I didn't have a lot of money, he invited me to have lunch with him at the restaurant Milles Colonnes, where they had low-cost meals. (It still exists but it has become a chic restaurant.) It was a place frequented by all the painters, writers, philosophers and Beauford knew almost all of them. This was how I entered into the artistic and intellectual world of 1968 Montparnasse.

As I lived in a tiny room, we saw each other almost every week for many years to have a few glasses of wine, which he loved to do in my company. He brought me to his studio at rue Vercingétorix, near the Gare Montparnasse. I remember well when I went there the first time that even though it was not very big, it was fairly high like an artist's studio and it was full of plants, almost like a jungle. The light entered by the glass roof and was filtered by the plants. When I asked him why the plants were so large, he told me that he had received some of them when they were tiny and he had only watered them from time to time - they grew by themselves.

Today I can say that this was a reflection of his huge heart and his tolerant and generous soul.

He showed me all his paintings. His color abstracts were the most fascinating to me. The portraits were done in a very naive style and were too "kind" for my taste. He could never imagine that someone could act in bad faith. He was oblivious to all the negative characteristics of people and of humanity in general. He was the opposite of Francis Bacon with regard to this aspect of figurative painting.

During the summer of '71, I lived in an apartment on the 7th floor on boulevard du Montparnasse with a balcony that extended the entire length of the apartment. After an evening of jazz at the American Center, boulevard Raspail, I invited Beauford and several musicians to have a drink at my place. At around 6:30 AM, the musicians and Beauford decided to wake Paris up with a jazz concert. The balcony was long but not wide and they lined up, a trumpetist, a cornet player, Beauford in the middle, a guitarist, and a drummer who played the iron railing of the balcony with [pieces of] wood. That was the first time that I heard Beauford sing with a voice so sweet and admirable that you could only imagine it coming from children singing in Baptist choirs in New Orleans. All the windows of the neighboring buildings opened and everybody applauded despite having been awakened too early. The concert lasted a half-hour or more.

We became true friends despite the difference in our ages - he could have been my grandfather. Despite my travels around the world we always found each other again until he was hospitalized in 1975. Today I regret not having visited him during those last years that he spent at Sainte Anne's Hospital in Paris.

For my first marriage, he offered me the two paintings that I present here and that I have kept for 34 years.

Untitled
(1970) Gouache
© Artistes sans Frontières/Douglas Petrovic, 2004
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Untitled
(1970) Gouache
© Artistes sans Frontières/Douglas Petrovic, 2004
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

It is because of him that I began painting and went to the Ecole des Beaux Arts. He was my first, and therefore my most important, art critic.

Douglas de Petrovic

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Where to Find Beauford's Art: Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

A new exposition is being co-organized by the Flint Institute of Arts in Flint, Michigan and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan. It's called Point of View: African American Art from the Elliot and Kimberly Perry Collection and it will be shown from January 26, 2014 through April 13, 2014. Works by Beauford and his brother Joseph will be displayed as part of the Masterworks collection at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Contemporary works will be displayed at the Flint Institute of Arts.

The image below represents the painting by Beauford that will be shown:

Untitled
(1964) oil on canvas
25 x 21 inches
Collection of Elliot & Kimberly Perry
Image courtesy of Ashley Phifer
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

From the Flint Arts Organization Web site:

Regarded as one of the most important collections of contemporary art in the country, the Elliot Perry Collection of African American Art represents over a decade of collecting art. The former NBA player started collecting, in 1996, such artists as John Biggers, Norman Lewis, Alma Thomas, Charles White, Jacob Lawrence, Beauford Delaney, Elizabeth Catlett, and Eldzier Cortor. In 2005, he shifted his focus to emerging, mid-career artists and has since added artists such as Kara Walker, Wangechi Mutu, Mickalene Thomas, Kehinde Wiley, Leslie Hewitt, Carrie Mae Weems, Glenn Ligon, Rashid Johnson, and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye to his collection.

Ashley Phifer, Assistant Curator at the Flint Institute of Arts, has informed Les Amis that the museums in Flint and in Detroit are only an hour apart and both are cultural centers in their respective cities. Through this collaboration, they hope to foster an even larger sense of community. One can easily visit both museums in one day and experience the true impact of the collection. Both museums are excited about the story that these works tell and the experiences that the artists and the collectors have infused into them.

The catalog for the exposition includes two essays: one by Erica Moiah James, Assistant Professor, Yale University on the contemporary works in the Perry collection (Flint), and the other by Jacqueline Francis, Ph.D., Associate Professor, California College of the Arts, San Francisco, California on the Masterworks in the collection (Detroit). It will be available when the exhibition opens in January.

For more information, contact Ashley Phifer at .

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Christie's Paris Sells Beauford Delaney Abstract at Auction

Christie's Paris placed Beauford's abstract painting Untitled, 1970 up for auction at its Rendez-Vous / Intérieurs Contemporains sale on October 9th.

Untitled, 1970
Oil on canvas, 65 x 54 cm.
© Christie's Images, 2013
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Painted at the artist’s studio : 53 rue Vercingétorix, Paris 14ème
Signed, dated, and situated in blue ink ‘Beauford Delaney 1970 Paris’ (lower middle)
Signed and dated in red paint ‘Beauford Delaney 1970’ (lower right)

This auction featured works of Impressionist and modern art, contemporary art, 20th-century decorative arts & design, and photography. Beauford's work shared the auction block with œuvre by renowned artists such as Picasso, Braque, and Dalí.

Sylvain Briet - an expert on Beauford’s art who has been called upon by Christie's in Paris and London to authenticate works for sale - provided Les Amis with information about Untitled in a previous blog post:

Where to Find Beauford's Art: Christie's Paris October 2013 Rendez-Vous / Intérieurs Contemporains Auction

The estimated sale price for the painting (Lot 146) was 4000€ to 6000€. It sold for 5000€ ($6784).

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Beauford's "Embrun" Sells at Swann Auction Galleries African-American Fine Art Auction

Per last week's posting, Swann Auction Galleries placed three paintings by Beauford up for auction at its October 2013 auction: Point of Departure: Postwar African-American Fine Art.

Embrun, the most dramatically colored of the works, sold for $12,500 (including buyer's premium*).

Embrun
(1963) Watercolor on wove paper
641x501 mm; 25 1/4x19 3/4 inches
Signed and dated "July 19, 1963" in ink, lower right
Image courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

This painting was exhibited at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, with the label on the frame back.

The other two paintings remain unsold.

Swann Auction Galleries
104 East 25th Street
New York, NY 10010
Telephone: 212-254-4710

*At auction, there are two prices--the hammer price, or the price at which the item sells during the auction, and the price with the buyer's premium. All auction houses have a buyer's premium that the buyer pays to the auction house on top of the hammer price. Swann's premium is 20%. Swann Auction Galleries now reports the "hammer price" and the price that include the buyer's premium in its online catalog.