Saturday, July 19, 2014

Beauford and Pablo Picasso

Beauford was influenced by the work of Pablo Picasso during his New York and Paris years.

Portrait of Pablo Picasso
Oil on canvas, 46 cm x 38 cm
Private collection
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator
Image courtesy of Christian Parramon

In New York, his friends and mentors, Alfred Steiglitz and Stuart Davis, were strong proponents of studying the works of European modernist painters such as Picasso, Matisse, Van Gogh, and Cézanne. According to David A. Leeming, Beauford's only biographer, Beauford developed a "theoretical interest in cubism as represented by Braque and Picasso."

In Paris, Beauford took a course in modern art featuring Braque, Picasso, and Vlaminck at the Musée d'Art Moderne. He would even meet Picasso in a gallery.

Beauford painted the portrait of Picasso shown above during his Paris years. The exact date is unknown.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Beauford in Vélizy

From time to time, I write a post to share contemporary photos of areas that Beauford frequented in Paris and the neighboring suburbs - the sites he saw, the streets he knew...

Today, I'm bringing you beautiful photos of the home and surroundings of Beauford's dear friend, James LeGros. Jim and his wife Bunny were Beauford's "dear friends in the country" and Beauford spent considerable time with them in the Paris suburb of Vélizy.

According to Jim, Beauford would take the train out to visit him and Bunny.

Cheville-Vélizy train station
© Discover Paris!

But when he had a mind to, Beauford would walk back to his apartment in Clamart, which was over 5 1/2 miles (8.9 km) away when following roads!

Photographer Christian Parramon was gracious enough to share photos of the LeGros home and neighborhood, where Beauford felt so welcome. These images (below) provide a broader perspective than the ones I published in Part 1 of Jim's tribute to Beauford.

The area has been built up since the late 50s, but it is still wooded, idyllic, and peaceful.

Forest and pond behind the LeGros home
© Christian Parramon

Clouds reflected in the étang (pond) behind the LeGros home
© Christian Parramon

View of the LeGros house (far right) from across the étang (pond)
© Christian Parramon

Yard at the LeGros house
© Christian Parramon

Advertisement on the side of the LeGros house
© Christian Parramon

View of first floor window of the LeGros house
© Christian Parramon

Living room of the LeGros house
© Christian Parramon

Hallway of the LeGros house
© Christian Parramon

Thank you, Christian!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Beauford and the Brouards - Part 2

In Part 1 of this article, I spoke of a delightful luncheon hosted by Geneviève and Jean-Claude Brouard in honor of Beauford. Today I am sharing more stories about Beauford and the Brouards.

Geneviève would frequently visit Beauford at his Montparnasse studio on rue Vercingétorix. She purchased works from him, paying him handsomely so that he could live as long as possible on the money she paid for them. In addition to inviting him to dine with her family and with friends, she helped him financially in this way.

(1962) Oil on canvas
39.4 x 31.9 inches; 100 x 81 cm
Signed on back: Beauford Delaney 1962
53 Rue Vercingétorix Paris
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator
Image by Discover Paris!

She remembers that she and Jean-Claude would often run into Beauford in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés area (where they viewed the film La Grande Bouffe together). They once found him seated on a bench reading a French newspaper. Geneviève said that Beauford spoke French well (contrary to what is indicated in Beauford’s biography, Amazing Grace: A Life of Beauford Delaney, which says that he never overcame his “inadequacies in French”). She said that she and Jean-Claude could not have spent so much time with him otherwise because their spoken English was not strong.

Geneviève recounts that Beauford visited the Brouards at home quite often, both when they lived in Paris’ 12th arrondissement and after they moved to Fontainebleau. She remembers that he loved children and described how he much he enjoyed the company of hers in the back seat of the car when she and Jean-Claude would drive him to his apartment in Clamart. She says that her kids have very fond memories of Beauford as well.

After spending an enjoyable evening with the Brouards, Beauford offered to paint Geneviève’s portrait. He intended it to be a gift, but he did not have the money to purchase the canvas. So Geneviève went with him to the art supply store and paid for the canvas that he selected.

Geneviève would then go to Beauford’s studio on rue Vercingétorix every Saturday morning to sit for her portrait. Each time, she sat in the same armchair – the chair that Beauford had all of his subjects sit in when he captured their likenesses on canvas.

The result was the painting shown below.

Portrait of Geneviève Brouard
(1964) Oil on canvas
15 x 12.6 inches; 40 x 32 cm
Signed on back: Beauford Delaney 1964
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator
Image by Discover Paris!

It is one of Geneviève’s most treasured remembrances of Beauford.

Les Amis dedicates this article to Jean-Claude Brouard, who passed away on May 27, 2014. May you rest in peace, Jean-Claude.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Beauford and the Brouards - Part 1

I have published several articles about Robert Tricoire and his collection of Beauford’s work. Thanks to him, I had the pleasure of meeting Geneviève and Jean-Claude Brouard, who were also friends of Beauford. The Brouards graciously invited Robert, James LeGros (a principal member of Beauford’s tutelle), and me to an amazing lunch in honor of Beauford at their home in Fontainebleau.

Around the table at the Brouards
From left to right – Robert Tricoire, Geneviève Brouard, James K. LeGros, Monique Y. Wells, Jean-Claude Brouard
Photo by Christian Parramon

I was particularly interested in meeting Geneviève because she is the founder of the French non-profit association Les Amis de James Keville LeGros. She is working to create a catalogue raisonnée of Jim’s art. I hope that Les Amis de Beauford Delaney will be able to do the same for Beauford in the near future.

Geneviève and Jean-Claude met Beauford through Jim LeGros. They, Jim and his wife Bunny, and Beauford went on to forge an enduring friendship. Robert Tricoire also met Beauford because of Jim. Though Beauford was considerably older than them when they met, his humor and his gentle spirit drew them to him. I was honored to listen to them talk about their experiences with Beauford and to laugh with them as they walked down memory lane.

We met at the Brouards’ splendid home on a beautiful sunny afternoon. As we enjoyed our appetizers, they laid out numerous documents and photos of Beauford. They allowed me to photograph the ones for which they did not have copies.

Several of these photos were snapped around the table at which we were about to dine. At the time they were taken, Beauford had stopped shaving himself and having his hair colored (Bunny LeGros used to do this for him).

Bunny LeGros, Jean-Claude Brouard, and Beauford
Image courtesy of Geneviève Brouard

Beauford, Jim LeGros, and Geneviève Brouard
© Discover Paris!

Geneviève recounted the story of one of her most cherished memories of Beauford – that of Beauford inspiring her father to get up and dance the Charleston in his house slippers! She regrets to this day that no photos were taken of the occasion.

Jim LeGros’ painting, 96 Cases, hangs in the Brouard dining room. A mini-portrait of Beauford figures among the many images that comprise this work (5th row, 9th image from the left), as do a mini-portrait of Geneviève (second row, 8th image from the left) and one of Jean-Claude (third row, 11th image from the left). Jim LeGros placed his own image and signed the painting in the bottom row at the far right.

96 Cases
(1975) Acrylic on canvas
25.2 x 48.8 inches ; 64 x 124 cm
Signed at lower right: JKL X -75
© James Keville LeGros
Image by Discover Paris!

Geneviève noted that a photo appearing in David Leeming’s biography of Beauford, Amazing Grace: A Life of Beauford Delaney, is incorrectly described as having been taken at Beauford’s studio. In fact, the photo was taken in her dining room – 96 Cases is clearly visible on the wall behind Beauford.

Photo of Beauford at the Brouards’ dining room table
Image courtesy of Geneviève Brouard

We moved to the dining room to continue the meal and the conversation. Geneviève recalled that Beauford had joined the group and gone to see the movie La Grande Bouffe at a cinema near Eglise Saint-Germain-des-Près. The star-studded film (a drama) was considered quite risqué at the time – the plot concerned four men who decided to retire to a private villa and eat themselves to death. Beauford – who Geneviève noted was frequently hungry – watched scene after scene of these men stuffing themselves at tables overflowing with food and began to laugh. His laughter was so infectious that the entire audience began to laugh!

Geneviève shared another story that she remembered concerning Beauford and food. Beauford was frequently invited to eat by friends, not only because they enjoyed his company, but also because they knew that he did not eat regularly because of his poverty. At one such gathering, someone commented to Beauford that he should invite everyone next time. He quickly accepted and went on to organize a simple meal at his studio on rue Vercingétorix. Paella was the main course. Everyone sat on the floor around Beauford’s bed and each person served himself / herself from a communal dish that passed from hand to hand. When Beauford feared that there was not enough food to satisfy everyone, he opened a can of peas and everyone was served directly from the can!

In Part 2 of this article, I’ll share more stories about Beauford and the Brouards.

Les Amis dedicates this article to Jean-Claude Brouard, who passed away on May 27, 2014. May you rest in peace, Jean-Claude.