Beauford Delaney at the Pompidou Center

I am passionate about the life and art of Beauford Delaney.

Beauford was an African-American man, an artist, and an expatriate. Born in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1901, he moved to Paris in 1953 after spending several years of his adult life in Boston and New York City. He died in Paris in 1979, leaving a legacy of brilliant portraits and abstract expressionist works for the world to enjoy.

As president of the French not-for-profit association called Les Amis de Beauford Delaney, I regularly write a blog to increase public awareness of Beauford’s legacy. I am pleased to announce that one of his works is on display at the Pompidou Center in Paris. It was donated to the museum by Solange and Jacques du Closel, who were devoted patrons of Beauford’s art.

Centre Pompidou © Discover Paris!

Centre Pompidou
© Discover Paris!

This magnificent abstract is part of an exposition entitled Multiple Modernities 1905-1970 (also called Plural Modalities). It hangs in a short corridor (Traverse G) between Rooms 31 and 34 on the 5th floor of the museum.

Because the painting is displayed in a corridor, rather than a room, it can be difficult to find. When I went to see it, one of the attendants was kind enough to walk me to the exact location of the painting.

Monique and Beauford's Untitled (1957) Oil on canvas © Discover Paris! © Estate of Beauford Delaney by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire, Court Appointed Administrator

Monique and Beauford’s Untitled (1957) Oil on canvas
© Discover Paris!
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

The label next to the painting presents the following information in English (translated from French):

African-American artist Pierre [sic] Beauford-Delaney studied in Boston then at the Art Student League in New York, with John Sloan. He joined the Harlem Renaissance movement, which was struggling for African-American emancipation, and started painting live portraits of jazz musicians playing in Harlem jazz clubs. He had settled in Paris by 1953, when he had gravitated toward abstract expressionism. In this work, the distinguishable blue figure in the thick swirl of predominantly red and yellow paint could be an animal.

The biographical information is scant and not quite accurate (Beauford began his New York career by painting dancers and society women at Billy Pierce’s Dancing School, not by painting jazz musicians). Also, for reasons unknown, the Pompidou Center has listed his name as Pierre Beauford-Delaney in the English version of the label, rather than simply Beauford Delaney.

All that aside, the work is superb – it is well worth a trip to the museum to see it! The painting is on display through January 26, 2015.

Centre Georges Pompidou
19 Rue Beaubourg
75004 Paris
Telephone: 01 44 78 12 33
Metro: Rambuteau, Hôtel de Ville, and Châtelet
Open every day except Tuesdays and May 1.
Hours: 11am-10pm. No tickets sold after 8pm.

Monique Y.Wells
Monique Y. Wells is the co-founder of Discover Paris! and the creator of Entrée to Black Paris tours.

Tom Reeves
Discover Paris

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