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!

(All or part of your gift through WIF may qualify as a charitable deductible in the U.S.)

Saturday, May 19, 2018

French "Classes Duo" Student in Search of Beauford in NYC

Simon, one of the French students in the Classes Duo Paris / Knoxville project, recently visited New York City with his family. One of the family's goals was to view as many Beauford Delaney works as possible.

Juliette Blache, the project coordinator in Paris, received an e-mail from Simon's mother with the following photo attached:

Simon and Composition 16 at MoMA
Image courtesy of Simon's mother

The message revealed that the family had just visited MoMA and that Simon was excited to stand next to an original Beauford Delaney abstract.

The family had visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art and learned that the Met's Beauford Delaney work is not currently on display. They had also planned to visit the Studio Museum of Harlem, but learned that the museum is undergoing renovation.

Blache immediately contacted me to share the photo and said Simon's mother wanted me to recommend other places where they could view Beauford's work. I told them about the five works held by the Whitney Museum of American Art and suggested that they go to the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery (MRG) as well.

Simon and his family did visit the gallery and they had a wonderful experience there. Simon and his mom shared the information below:

Simon and MRG Senior Associate Zachary Ross "swapped stories" about Beauford - with Simon sharing many of the things he has learned about Beauford through Classes Duo. As an example, he told Ross that Beauford modeled with Tennessee red clay when he was a child. Ross told Simon that he / she was aware of this and shared that Beauford lived on rue Vercingétorix (a street that is very near Simon's school) in Paris.

Ross invited Simon and his family to go "behind the scenes" to visit the area where many of Beauford's paintings are stored. Simon reported that they saw a portrait, a "painting of a man and a woman," and two abstract paintings, one of which is an "enormous" yellow painting found in the Liquid Light: Paris Abstractions catalog from the exhibition of the same name organized by MRG in 1999.

Liquid Light catalog cover
Image courtesy of Simon's mother

Image of yellow abstract painting in Liquid Light catalog
Image courtesy of Simon's mother

Simon said that Ross explained that "Beauford looked out his window to paint what he saw, but 'in abstract.'"

Simon's mother has exchanged e-mails with Ross and has given him the link for the Classes Duo timeline so everyone at MRG can follow the project's progress. Ross has shared the link for the timeline with everyone at the gallery and is excited that Beauford has so many young fans!

Last week, Simon proudly returned to school bearing a copy of the Liquid Light catalog, which Ross graciously offered to Simon. The children at Jean Zay Elementary Public School now have the Resonance of Form and Liquid Light catalogs to use for inspiration when they create art during the Classes Duo project.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Delia Delaney - Beauford's Beloved Mother

In celebration of Mother's Day 2018, I decided to devote this week's blog post to Beauford's beloved mother, Delia Delaney.

The first three pages of the first chapter in Beauford's biography, Amazing Grace: A Life of Beauford Delaney, are devoted to "Delia Johnson Delaney, a strict, proud woman who upheld what she saw as the Christian virtues."

Image of 1953 portrait of Delia Delaney from
Amazing Grace: A Life of Beauford Delaney

In reading these pages, we learn that Delia was born into slavery in February 1865, that she never learned to read or write, and that she loved singing old songs and telling stories about plantation life and the Civil War days. She instilled in her children the value of education and the evils of racism.

We also learn that she was naturally artistic and that she never revealed her sufferings to the world at large. These are two traits that she passed on to Beauford.

Beauford captured his mother's likeness many times, from a 1922 watercolor that he created under Lloyd Branson's tutelage in Knoxville, to later portraits done from memory after Delia's passing in 1958.

I have posted images of two of these portraits on this blog several times over the years:

Portrait of Delia Delaney
(1964) Oil on canvas
Knoxville Museum of Art
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Portrait of Delia Delaney
(1933) Pastel on paper
Knoxville Museum of Art
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Another portrait of Delia is part of the private collection of painter Danny Simmons:

Portrait of the Artist’s Mother
(1930) Pencil, ink and watercolor on paper
© Estate of Beauford Delaney,
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

In Amazing Grace, biographer David Leeming describes Delia as being "the dominant force for stability" in Beauford's life. When she died, he wrote to his friend Larry Wallrich that he hoped to "gather [himself] together" and "use some of the heritage of endurance left me by her."

Happy Mother's Day from Les Amis de Beauford Delaney!

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Beauford and Larry Calcagno: The Letters

In August 2016, Wells International Foundation intern, Sojourner Ahébée, wrote a poignant article about the correspondence between Beauford and his dear friend, Larry Calcagno:

A Boundless Love: Beauford Delaney's Letters to Larry Calcagno

An Artistic Friendship:
Beauford Delaney and Lawrence Calcagno

Catalog cover for art exposition
Palmer Museum of Art (2001)

Calcagno's nephew, Tom Gibson, recently sent me copies of several letters kept at the Calcagno archive in Poughkeepsie, NY that were exchanged by these two men. In reading them, I felt the strong tug at my heartstrings that I did when I read Sojourner's description of the thoughts and feelings that Beauford and Calcagno shared.

Today, I'm sharing a few lines from an undated letter that Beauford wrote to Larry, which he likely penned in early 1970. Calcagno had recently undergone surgery.

Beauford opens with the following:

"Just received your wonderful letter [—] 'wonderful' because all of your letters are ...

"Your going to beautiful Porto [sic] Rico naturally restores your physical and creative sources and the rest among those wonderful people together with the marvelous ocean and Sun is where you should remain as long as you feel like letting nature, embrace you and all her magic will remake you free and happy living a great physical and creative life."

In this passage, the kinship between these soul mates is tangible.

Beauford goes on to talk of his recent visit to Knoxville to see his family and the work that occupied his life and sustained his morale after his return to Paris. He mentions the demolition of the Gare Montparnasse and its replacement by "an enormous Bldg 55 stories high."

Tour Montparnasse seen from Arc de Triomphe (2012)
Creative Commons License (Wikimedia Commons)
Author: Ввласенко

He acknowledges that changes in the city landscape are necessary but notes that "the ancient charm makes many of us nostalgie 'smile'."

He then addresses the subject of art and what it means to him and Calcagno:

"...I believe that all that we are now has always been and the exploration of working with our art and of course its also our way of life bringing to it as much of its inimgma [sic] is deathless and teaches us patience and courage ... I begin to believe that the various visions and dreams release themselves so we may be fecund and capable of creating sometimes that which is universal."

This letter, which is signed

"Love, Love, Love to you dear Larry and write when you can[.] be well and happy Beauford"

is but one of many in the Calcagno archive that sing with the deep love and respect that these two artists had for each other.

Portrait of a Young Man (Larry Calcagno)
(1953) Oil on canvas
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

For more articles about Beauford and Larry Calcagno, click on the links below.

Beauford and Larry Calcagno

Larry Calcagno's Portrait of Beauford

Beauford in Spain

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Teaching Creativity and Science through Beauford's Abstract Expressionist Art - Part 2

In Part 1 of this article, I presented images of abstract works created by French and American students who are participating in Classes Duo Paris / Knoxville, the project that has been inspired by Beauford's life and art.

This week, I'm sharing additional images of works created by students at Jean Zay Elementary Public School in Paris. These were inspired by Beauford's abstract entitled Les Embruns:

Les Embruns
(1963) Mixed media on paper
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

While some students strove to model the forms and angles in Beauford's work,

Les Embruns-inspired work - 4
Oil pastel and watercolor on paper
Image courtesy of Jean Zay Elementary Public School

Les Embruns-inspired work - 1
Mixed oil / watercolor on paper
Image courtesy of Jean Zay Elementary Public School

others let their imaginations run free.

Les Embruns-inspired work - 1
Oil pastel and watercolor on paper
Image courtesy of Jean Zay Elementary Public School

Les Embruns-inspired work - 3
Mixed oil / watercolor on paper
Image courtesy of Jean Zay Elementary Public School

Jean Zay project leader, Juliette Blache, organized the painting session with the intent to have the students learn firsthand the different properties of oil-based and water-based paints and pigments and how the two behave when they are combined (solubility).

For certain works, they began by tracing lines and forms onto paper using oil-based crayons. They then painted over their lines with watercolors and saw how the oil repelled the colors, leaving white traces.

For other works, they stirred oil into watercolor and applied the resulting mixture onto paper.

To create the red, orange, and ochre works shown in last week's blog post, they stirred water into oil-based paint and used the resulting mixture.

Blache described the session as follows:

Exciting scientific experience for children … They had a lot of fun … And they love to paint abstracts more and more. They are finally daring to express their emotions through their paintbrushes!