Archive for January 7th, 2012

I was looking through a book of American Expressionist paintings and came across this piece that completely pulled me in.  It was a scene of Greenwich Village in the 1940’s painted in spectacular fashion by Beauford Delaney, a name with which I wasn’t too familiar.  Looking at it, there was so much going on in this quiet street scene that it was like a luscious meal set before me and I simply hovered over it, savoring it  before I dug in.  I didn’t know where to start.

The colors are big and bold with a blue night sky that brought Van Gogh to mind and a moon that hangs in a crescent  that floats almost sweetly over the near empty street.  It is rough and expressionistic yet elegant and complex in the ways the colors play off one another.  It is quiet yet hardly timid.  It is what it is, a street scene, but its abstracted manner gives it other dimensions and depths.

Just about everything I want in a painting.

Like I said, I didn’t know much about Beauford Delaney, to my embarrassment.  He’s shown here in a 1940 portrait done by Georgia O’keefe, which I thought was pretty interesting as well.  Born in 1901 in Knoxville, Tennessee, he and his brother, Joseph, were both prominent artists and part of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1930’s.  Beauford never achieved the sort of recognition here that his work deserved and he struggled mightily until finally leaving the States in the early 1950’s, settling in Paris where he lived the rest of his life, dying in 1979.  There is an interesting short  bio, A Tale of Two Brothers by Jack Neely, online for those who seek to know a bit more about the man.

I know I will be looking for more of his work.


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