Knoxville-born, Beauford Delaney (1901-1979), is considered by many to be among the greatest American abstract painters of the twentieth century. He is remembered for his work with the Harlem Renaissance in the 1930s and 1940s, as well as his later works in abstract expressionism following his move to Paris in 1950.
Beauford and his younger brother, Joseph, were both attracted to art from an early age. The Delaney brothers grew up going to black public schools in the downtown Knoxville area, and loved to draw in school and church.
Beauford and Joseph studied art under the tutelage of Lloyd Bransen. They left Knoxville in 1923 as a result of the Knoxville race riots and the need to further advance their artistic development.
In 1930, when he was still in his 20s, Beauford held an art show at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. By the end of the Harlem Renaissance, Beauford had become known for his portraits of several major figures, including W.E.B. DuBois, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and W.C. Handy. He became close friends with writers Henry Miller and James Baldwin.
Beauford returned to Knoxville for a visit in 1950. Three years later, he moved to Paris. There he became more interested in abstract expressionism.
Beauford Delaney died in Paris in 1979.
The Knoxville (TN) Chapter of The Links Incorporated presents A TOAST TO THR ARTS, SEPTEMBER 6, 2019 6:00 PM at the Knoxville Museum of Art.
The event is being given to honor and support the work of Beauford Delaney and his brother Joseph Delaney, two African American brothers who were born in Knoxville, TN at the beginning of the 20th Century. They spent their childhood years in East Tennessee and then went to Chicago, Boston, and New York to study art with some of the best art teachers in the world. Beauford went on to Paris in the 1950’s where he lived until his death in 1979. He painted, studied and participated in the avant garde life and is now considered one of the greatest contemporary artists in the world.
In 2016 the Knoxville (TN) Chapter joined a local initiative The Delaney Project in Knoxville, TN to promote the life, time periods and the art of the Delaney brothers. The initiative was started to bring about public awareness of these two gifted brothers who were born at the beginning of the twentieth century and who was taught By Lloyd Branson, a local artist, who recognized their talent. The Knoxville (TN) Chapter of the Links, Incorporated brought Dr. Monique Wells, an expatriate Delaney historian from Paris to Knoxville, to lecture to audiences at the Knoxville Museum of Art and thus began many activities that have led to a Delaney Renaissance in the region.
The Second Annual “Toast To The Arts” is being sponsored by the Links to support the world premier of a new opera Shadowlight by Larry Dellinger, a noted composer of modern classical music, and libretto by Emily Anderson, a Knoxville native. The opera comments on the relationship between Beauford Delaney and James Baldwin, the great American writer, who were great friends during their Paris years. This new music, being presented in Knoxville, brings a great honor to the region and strengthens its quest to become a center of excellence for the study of Beauford Delaney’s impressive work.
We invite you to attend this important gala on September 6, at the Knoxville Museum of Art. Your support is greatly appreciated and you’ll surely enjoy the opportunity to socialize with an audience that’s very committed to the arts and culture in Knoxville.