Saturday, November 22, 2014

Another Delaney Abstract Sells at Auction

Heritage Auctions placed an extraordinary Beauford Delaney abstract painting up for sale during its American Art Signature Auction (New York #5198) on November 17th:

Untitled, circa 1960
Oil on paper mounted on canvas
20-1/2 x 17 inches (52.1 x 43.2 cm)
Image courtesy of www.ha.com
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

It once belonged to Dr. Ferdière, who was Beauford's physician and friend. Ferdière worked at the clinic in Nogent where Beauford underwent treatment for acute paranoia after his breakdown in 1961.

Beauford signed this creation at the lower center.

Untitled, circa 1960 - Beauford's signature
Image courtesy of www.ha.com
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

The auction also featured works by Georgia O'Keeffe and Man Ray, both of whom Beauford knew.

Beauford's untitled abstract sold for $7500, 25% buyer's premium included.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

De Hirsh Margules' Portrait of Beauford


Portrait of Beauford Delaney
De Hirsh Margules
(ca. early 1950s) Oil on canvas
Image courtesy of Adrian Lesher
Reprinted with the permission of Adam Tansky

De Hirsh Margules (1899–1965) was a Romanian-born American "abstract realist" painter who crossed paths with many major American artistic and intellectual figures of the first half of the 20th century. Elaine de Kooning said that he was "[w]idely recognized as one of the most gifted and erudite watercolorists in the country"... He was also a well-known participant in the bohemian culture of New York City's Greenwich Village, where he was widely known as the "Baron" of Greenwich Village. --Wikipedia

Adrian Lesher is the owner of the painting depicted above. He has done a good bit of research on Margules and is the primary contributor to the Wikipedia page on Margules. He contacted me to ask whether I could verify that Beauford was the man in the portrait and provide him with information about any contact that Margules may have had with him. I was quickly able to confirm that the portrait is of Beauford.

I was not able to find any direct evidence of a relationship between Margules and Beauford, but I have subsequently learned that they traveled in the same circles in New York and had many friends in common. Willem de Kooning, Elaine de Kooning, John Marin, Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O'Keeffe, and Henry Miller were among them.

Margules left New York in 1927 to spend two years in Paris. He returned in 1929, the same year that Beauford arrived.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Nell Painter on Beauford

Nell Painter (the artist formerly known as the historian Nell Irvin Painter) lives and works in Newark, New Jersey. She uses found images and digital manipulation to reconfigure the past and to revision herself through self-portraits. She first focused on Beauford’s work when she was writing her book entitled Creating Black Americans: African American History and Its Meanings, 1619 to the Present (Oxford University Press, 2006). All of the images in this book are of black fine art, and she comments on Beauford’s Can Fire in the Park (1946) and his portrait of Marian Anderson in it.

Nell is particularly enamored of the self-portrait that Beauford created when he was at Yaddo in 1950.

Self-portrait, Yaddo
(1950) Pastel, watercolor, and charcoal on paper
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

She discovered this self-portrait a few years before she became an artist in residence at Yaddo (October 2012). While there, she corrected an oversight that left Beauford off the list of visual artist "guests" kept by the program. She said that Yaddo was proud of Delaney and that they mounted a show of his work. But he still had been left off the list of guests.

She has created numerous collages based on this work, several of which she has allowed me to reproduce here.

Yaddo Diptych, Framed
Nell Painter
(2014) Digital collage on paper

Yaddo L Lines
Nell Painter
(2014) Digital collage on paper

Right now, her favorite is Beauford Delaney at Yaddo on Pink, 2014. It is the last of the series based on the Yaddo self-portrait.

Beauford Delaney at Yaddo Pink 2014
Nell Painter
(2014) Digital and manual collage on paper

I asked Nell how the greater body of Beauford's work has influenced her art. She replied:

One clear influence is my use of cadmium yellow as a base coat for paintings of people to give the painting overall warmth, a kind of humanity. His portraits of James Baldwin taught me that a portrait needn't try to mimic the look of the sitter in order to convey power and affection. The yellow helps with this.

She also shared the following reflection on Beauford's life and work:

I have a long involvement with France, starting with junior year abroad in 1962-63 in Bordeaux and 1996-1997 in Paris. My husband and I are both fluent in French, so I couldn't ignore the strong French thread running through the lives, experiences, and work of many of the twentieth-century black painters whose work I liked, e.g., Palmer Hayden, Hale Woodruff, Romare Bearden, Robert Colescott... I think my painters could not have painted without their French dimension encouraging them to be themselves in their work. Beauford Delaney stands out among them with his need for freedom and support. I doubt he could have made his magnificent oeuvre had he remained in the U. S.



Saturday, November 1, 2014

"Some Negro Artists" - A 1964 Group Exhibition

© Discover Paris!

Fifty years ago, Fairleigh Dickenson University mounted a group exhibition called Some Negro Artists at the Florham-Madison campus in Madison, NJ. It consisted of 37 works by 17 artists, including Beauford, Romare Bearden, Lorenzo Gilcrist, Norman Lewis, and Beauford's close friend, Ellis Wilson.

The catalog, which contains only three images (none of which are of Beauford's work), can be viewed HERE.

Three brief paragraphs in the catalog introduce Beauford to the reader. The first paragraph erroneously lists the year of his birth as 1910 - possibly due to the transposition of the last two digits of his true birth year, 1901. The write-up indicates that Beauford was the recipient of a Farfield [sic] Foundation Grant in 1964 (Beauford gifted part of this grant to Ellis Wilson) and that during the 50s and 60s, he exhibited his work in galleries in "Paris, Madrid, Iserlohn[sic], Germany, and Borderghira [sic], Italy."

Two of Beauford's paintings hung in this show: an oil called Yaddo and a pastel called Head of a Poet. The catalog indicates no date for either work.

The exhibition, which was sponsored by the Subcommittee for Negro Affairs of the Morris County Tercentenary Committee, ran from October 20 to November 20, 1964. The public could view the show from 12 PM to 4 PM daily. Beauford did not attend.