Printer Friendly Version

Beauford Delaney's Untitled

Not only did Delaney paint many portraits of friends and supporters, he also made many self-portraits.
Self-Portrait, Yaddo, 1950. Pastel, watercolor, and charcoal on paper. The Schonberger Family.

Delaney lived on Greene Street for over sixteen years. Instead of painting a realistic scene, he used fire hydrants, manhole covers, and fire escapes as symbols for the city street.
Greene Street, 1940. Oil on canvas. Private collection.

Delaney loved jazz music. This lively scene depicts a jazz club in Greenwich Village.
Jazz Quartet, 1946. Oil on canvas. Private Collection.

key idea
While living in New York, Delaney filled his canvases with people and places.

Beauford Delaney attended art school in Boston and then moved to New York in November 1929. He soon began to earn money by painting portraits of wealthy, high-society people. A lover of jazz and blues music, literature and the theater, Delaney also painted many writers, actors, musicians, and other public figures he admired. He had a warm, outgoing personality, and many of the people he painted became his friends as well as his financial supporters.

Delaney lived in a part of New York City called Greenwich Village. In that vibrant and artistic area, the lively streets and diverse people inspired him. He painted street scenes, parks, jazz clubs, and even his own art studio in the Village. But his paintings were not snapshots of real life. Instead, they expressed how it felt to be in the city. The vivid colors, energetic lines, and quick brushstrokes show that being in Greenwich Village was very exciting.

The bright street lamps radiate energy in this urban park scene.
Washington Square, 1948. Oil on canvas. Richard and Camile Lippe.
December 2004