28 3/4 x 23 1/2 in. (73 x 59.7 cm)
(Knoxville, TN, 1901 – 1979, Paris)
Medium and Support:
Oil on canvas
Maurice R. and Maxine B. Forman Fund, Herdle Fund, Lyman K. and Eleanore B. Stuart Endowment Fund, Marion Stratton Gould Fund, and the Estate of Susan Eisenhart Schilling
Location: Currently on view
Beauford Delaney was a charming, witty, and very well-loved sophisticate who took up residence as a painter in Harlem, New York, in the late 1920s during the Harlem Renaissance. A gay African American, he moved to Greenwich Village in the 1940s and was one of the few cultural figures in New York City at the time to circulate in both the uptown and downtown scenes. In 1957 Delaney traveled to Paris for what he thought would be a brief visit and ended up living and painting there the rest of his life.
Delaney made this painting, a portrait of jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker, while in Paris. It was purchased from Delaney by the actor Billy Dee Williams, when Williams was accompanied to Delaney’s studio by the artist’s best friend, the author James Baldwin. Yellow, the color of sunlight, joy, and spiritual revelation, was Delaney’s favorite color. It was symbolic of his optimism as he struggled against the illnesses of alcoholism and depression that plagued him much of his life, eventually leading to his death in St. Anne’s Hospital for the Insane in Paris.
[Gallery label text, Summer 2015]