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.!

We value your support!

TO MAKE A DONATION, CLICK HERE.
(All or part of your gift through WIF may qualify as a charitable deductible in the U.S.)

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Beauford and the Delaney Family in Jefferson City, Tennessee

Beauford's father, John Samuel (Brother) Delaney, was a Methodist Episcopal preacher and a barber. In 1905, he was called to serve as pastor at the Boyd Chapel Methodist Church in Jefferson City and the entire family moved there - Delaney, his wife, Delia, and their nine children. Beauford was only three or four years old at the time.

David A. Leeming, author of Amazing Grace: A Life of Beauford Delaney, says the following about the family's Jefferson City abode:

Sam was installed as the pastor of the Boyd Chapel Methodist church. His only pay was help with the rent for the "parsonage" the family lived in near the church ... The house was quite small, but it had a large vegetable garden as well as a huge front yard for the young children to play in. This would be home for five years.

Delia Naomi Delaney, the tenth and last of the Delaney siblings, was born in Jefferson City. She died in 1909 at eight months of age.

Photo of the Delaney Family, 1909
Top, left to right: Samuel Emery, John Samuel, Delia
Bottom, left to right: Joseph, Ogust Mae, Beauford, Naomi
Photo from du Closel archive
Image © Discover Paris!

Boyd Chapel recently celebrated its 150th anniversary of existence.

150th Anniversary Celebration Banner
Detail from photo by Standard Banner, Jefferson City, TN

Stephen Wicks, Barbara W. and Bernard E. Bernstein Curator at the Knoxville Museum of Art, was invited to speak at their celebration on September 16. Members of the Delaney family were in the audience.

Stephen Wicks Speaks at 150th Anniversary Celebration
Photo courtesy of Reverend Dr. Andrew Smith,
pastor of Boyd Chapel UMC

Attendees at 150th Anniversary Celebration
Photo courtesy of Reverend Dr. Andrew Smith,
pastor of Boyd Chapel UMC

Stephen Wicks at table (second from left);
Delaney family member in foreground
Photo courtesy of Reverend Dr. Andrew Smith,
pastor of Boyd Chapel UMC

During his presentation, Wicks made the argument that Beauford and his brother Joseph began their artistic paths at Boyd Chapel as they spent time "shaping figures of red clay in the parsonage yard and drawing biblical illustrations on their Sunday school programs."

The Delaney family remained in Jefferson City until 1915, when they returned to their original home at 815 East Vine Street in Knoxville. The building that Boyd Chapel UMC currently occupies was constructed in 1922.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Paris, France - A Work on Paper


The Menil Collection* in Houston, TX owns a single Beauford Delaney work - a drawing called Paris, France.


Paris, France

Ink on paper
8 1/4 × 10 9/16 in. (21 × 26.8 cm)
Signed LR: "Beauford Delaney" and inscribed LC: "Paris - France"
The Menil Collection
Gift of William A. and Joan Seeman Robinson
Photograph and Digital Image © The Menil Collection
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

I learned about this piece when I visited the Menil Collection in June 2017 and met curator Michelle White. She told me that it represented a street scene in Paris and said that it was currently archived. She later generously shared this image and asked me to comment on it from the perspective of a Paris resident.

Though my initial point of reference was a Paris street scene, I believe this work is a melange of several themes.

I see several human and abstract forms in the rectangular space that makes up two-thirds of the upper half of the drawing. On the left side, I see structures that could be construed as buildings, even dwellings, but they do not remind me of Paris.

In the bottom half of the drawing, I see a human figure next to the "dwelling" in the lower left corner. Moving my eyes to the right, I see a series of arches that stretch across the length of the work. They immediately bring to mind the viaduct that supports the trains of Metro Line 6 at Pont de Bercy - a bridge that connects the 12th and 13th arrondissements. The viaduct was built in 1904.

Viaduct at Pont de Bercy
2016 Cramos
Creative Commons License

After thoughtful consideration of what this drawing might depict, I shared it with curator Stephen Wicks at the Knoxville Museum of Art (with curator White's permission) and asked him to comment on it. Wicks recently curated a solo exhibition of Beauford's work that included numerous sketches.

He responded as follows:

...this strikes me as one of his [Beauford's] small ink sketches from the mid-1960s. I see 3-4 abstracted figures in the upper center surrounded by architectural elements in the foreground (arches) and left margin (roof lines) that suggest perhaps an open air concert or performance in Montparnasse or thereabouts. As you know, he adored the performing arts and depicted musicians and other performers in many paintings and sketches throughout his career.

Beauford lived in a studio on rue Vercingétorix during the 1960s and 70s. During the early- to mid-1970s, his neighborhood underwent massive renewal - including the demolition of the building that housed his studio. It is quite possible that the buildings and other structures represented in this drawing no longer exist.

*The Menil Collection suffered no damage from Hurricane Harvey.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Brothers' Network Features Les Amis President Monique Y. Wells


Several months ago, Gregory Walker of The Brothers' Network informed me that his godson would be attending graduate school in Paris in the fall. He asked if I'd be willing to share any insights about what his godson could expect as an African-American expatriate and give any recommendations that would make the transition from student life in the U.S. to student life in Paris easier.

Walker is Creative Dirctor of The Brothers' Network - a U.S. organization based in Philadelphia whose mission is to highlight positive contributions and representations of African-American men in creative and instructive ways through the arts. His godson, Anthony Fleet, serves as National Advisory Board Member for The Brothers' Network. Fleet is studying Integrated Marketing and Communication at Northwestern University and spending his last semester of master's-level study at Sciences Po in Paris.

Anthony Fleet at the Seine
Image courtesy of Anthony Fleet

I met Fleet in Paris in early September. Among the things we discussed were his realization that he was one of the few members of the Brothers' Network who had never traveled abroad and his appreciation of the opportunity to complete his graduate studies in Paris.

Fleet has developed a talent for video editing and production as part of his educational pursuits and he extended an invitation to me to be interviewed for The Brothers' Network's monthly editorial publication. He was particularly interested in the work I do to preserve Beauford's legacy and asked me to share the story of why I am so passionate about his life and work. Watch the interview below:



For more information about The Brothers' Network, click HERE.


Saturday, October 7, 2017

What Sold at Swann Auction Galleries' October 2017 African American Fine Art Sale

Five out of eight Beauford Delaney works offered during Swann Auction Galleries' October 2017 African American Fine Art Sale sold.

All four abstract works were purchased:

Untitled (Green Drip Abstraction)
(Lot 40), a gouache on wove paper, sold for $12,500 (including buyer's premium*).

Untitled (Green Drip Abstraction)
(1958) Gouache on wove paper
603x483 mm; 23.75x19 inches
Signed, dated, and inscribed "To Lucien, on his birthday
with affection from Beauford Delaney Paris 1958."
Image courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator


Untitled (Brown and Orange Abstraction)
(Lot 41), another gouache on wove paper, sold for $8,125 (including buyer's premium).

Untitled (Brown and Orange Abstraction)
(1958-59) Gouache on wove paper
660x483 mm; 26x20 inches.
Signed and inscribed "To Jimmy with love Beauford Happy Birthday"
in ink, lower center.
Image courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator


Untitled (Green, Red and Yellow Abstraction)
(Lot 55), a watercolor on wove paper, sold for $11,875 (including buyer's premium).

Untitled (Green, Red and Yellow Abstraction)
(1964) Watercolor on wove paper
648x502 mm; 25 1/2x19 3/4 inches.
Initialed, dated and inscribed "Paris", in ball point pen and blue ink, lower center.
Signed and dated in ball point pen and blue ink, lower right.
Image courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

And Untitled (Abstract Composition) (Lot 56), another watercolor on wove paper, also sold for $11,875 (including buyer's premium).

Untitled (Abstract Composition)
(1965) Watercolor on wove paper
546x457 mm; 21 1/2x18 inches.
Signed, dated and inscribed "avec amour" in ink.
Image courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

The only figurative work that was purchased was Greenhouse at Yaddo (Lot 26).

Greenhouse at Yaddo
(1950) Color pastels on wove paper
457x610 mm; 18x24 inches.
Signed, dated and inscribed "Yaddo" in pastel, lower right.
Image courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

It fetched the highest price of all the Beauford Delaney works in this sale - $15,000 (including buyer's premium).

Three portraits remain unsold.

*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 in addition to the hammer price. The buyer’s premium for items purchased directly through Swann is 25%. Swann Auction Galleries now reports the "hammer price" and the price that include the buyer's premium in its online catalog.