Times were hard for a young homosexual Black guy, especially since he arrived in New York during the Great Depression of 1929. He frequented jazz clubs and cafés and painted many portraits. Wanting to escape the homophobic mockery from his fellows in Harlem, he set up his studio in 1936 in Greenwich Village.
The Village gathers all the hopes of this young man just out of misery. He paints the atmosphere of his street and of Washington Square with flat tints of saturated colors in a heavy impasto, over an extremely schematic drawing. His style inspired by Van Gogh, Cézanne and Gauguin persuades the very young James Baldwin that an African-American art is possible.
On April 5 in New York, Swann sells a street scene in the Village, oil on canvas 74 x 102 cm painted in 1948, lot 33 estimated $ 150K.
Close to the jazz elites but far from American artistic circles, Delaney settled in Paris in 1953 where Baldwin had become a famous writer of the homosexual dignity. His art is first welcomed in Montparnasse but his last years are marred by alcoholism and misery. His distance from the United States made him lose any chance of an artistic recognition in New York and of a direct participation in the civic movements of which he was still very close.
Beauford Delaney has joined Van Gogh in the class of the artistes maudits. Thirty years after his death in Paris in 1979 in a hospital for insane, his unmarked grave was identified and preserved by his Parisian admirers. His art remains undervalued.
SOLD for $ 460K before fees