December 4, 2020 - January 30, 2021
Knoxville native Beauford Delaney persevered through poverty, racial discrimination, and mental illness to become an internationally recognized artist. As a teenager, his work caught the eye of Lloyd Branson and became his apprentice. The opportunity catapulted Delaney towards New York City during the Harlem Renaissance where he cultivated a circle of friends, including poet laureate Countee Cullen, artist Georgia O’Keeffe, and writer James Baldwin. In 1953, Delaney left New York for Paris, France, as Europe had begun attracting African-American artists and writers. His works began to shift from figurative compositions to abstract expressionists of color and light.
The exhibition featured 21 works, including 4 oil on canvas paintings, abstract watercolors, pastel portraits, and 3 self-portraits, that range across various stages of Delaney’s life. Exhibition highlights included a pastel portrait of Harriet Tubman and an oil portrait of Delaney’s longtime friend and frequent model, New York singer Dante Pavone.