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Beauford Delaney (American, 1901–1979)
LOT ID: 67898
Double-sided portrait, 1942

Pastel, on paper
23 х 18 in. (58.42 x 45.72 cm.)
Signed, and dated center right.
Lot description
DRAWINGS ON FRONT AND BACK OF THE SAME SHEET.

Delaney became part of a gay bohemian circle of mainly whites in Greenwich Village in the 1930s. He feared his homosexuality would not be accepted by his Harlem friends and was plagued throughout his life by the pressures of being black and gay in a racist and homophobic society.

A celebrated portraitist of the Harlem Renaissance, Beauford Delaney was known as a free spirit in the African-American community. In the 1920s, he rubbed elbows with the great writers and musicians of the time, including Louis Armstrong and W.E.B. Du Bois. He was a member of the Harlem Artists Guild and after the Depression, like many other artists, received a position with the WPA. Henry Miller found Delaney's tenacity inspiring and wrote an essay about him in 1945.

Moving to Paris in the 1950s, Delaney's mental state became increasingly unstable. He continued to produce work but was eventually institutionalized and died in a hospital for the mentally ill in 1979. His work is in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, The Ewing Gallery at the University of Tennessee and the Clark-Atlanta University Art Gallery.
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