Self Portrait, Yaddo
(November 18, 2004) - A groundbreaking exhibition featuring the colorful and engaging work of the late Yaddo artist Beauford Delaney opens Sunday, November 21, at The Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
Titled “Beauford Delaney: From New York to Paris,” the exhibition presents, for the first time, a visual progression of the artist’s transition from painting vibrant figurative compositions of New York City to abstract expressions of color and light in Paris. Forty-eight artworks from both European and American collections will be on view, including several works from Delaney’s earliest years in Paris that have never been publicly shown.
One of the featured paintings in the exhibition is Self Portrait, Yaddo, completed during a 1950 residency at Yaddo. That image has been used to publicize the show, in part because it is a favorite of Patricia Sue Canterbury, Assistant Curator in the institute’s Department of Paintings and Modern Sculpture and curator of the Delaney exhibition.
“It is very singular, being the only portrait in which he bears an unmistakable air of contentment. In short, it’s the only one that shows him fat and happy during a period where he didn’t have to worry about a roof over his head or where his next meal might come from,” Canterbury said. “The fellowship he experienced with Yaddo’s other guests certainly fed his soul as well. I fully suspect that his experience there helped him to see France as a viable possibility for his future.”
Delaney, who also was a Yaddo guest artist in 1951, was born in Tennessee in 1901 and migrated north in the 1920s, first to Boston and then to New York City. In 1953, he moved to Paris, intending to stay only a few months but remaining there until his death in 1979. Although he produced works of great diversity and technical complexity, Canterbury says Delaney remains relatively unknown to the general public, and she is hopeful that the exhibition opening this weekend and later traveling to three other cities will broaden interest in his work and life.
Photo courtesy of Hardy Liston
David Leeming, a former professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Connecticut and a noted biographer, will present an opening day lecture titled “Beauford Delaney: Palette of Light and Love.” Between 1963 and 1967, Leeming worked as an assistant to Yaddo writer James Baldwin, who introduced him to Delaney in the summer of 1966. Leeming remained close to Delaney during the painter’s last years. The program is at 2 p.m. Sunday, November 21, and is free and open to the public.
A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition, which runs through February 20, 2005, in Minneapolis and then travels to Knoxville, Tennessee (April 8-June 25, 2005); Greenville, South Carolina (July 30-October 8, 2005); and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (November 12, 2005-January 28, 2006). For additional information about Delaney or the exhibition, click here to visit The Minneapolis Institute of Arts web site.