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Rachel Cohen

Delaney (10)

Beauford Delaney Eyes

Friday, June 5, 2020

Drawing together the two paintings I’ve been considering this week – Delaney’s Untitled (Village Street) , 1948, and his Self-Portrait , 1944. Beauford Delaney, Untitled (Village Street), 1948, Terra Foundation of Art. All detail photos Rachel Cohen. Beauford Delaney, Self-Portrait, 1944, Art Institute of Chicago. All detail photos Rachel Cohen. When I was with Untitled (Village Street) , I noticed the repeating circles and ovals – lights, clouds, signs, puddles. [...] more

Delaney, Self-Portrait with a Red Hat

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Today, I just want to look at this self-portrait by Beauford Delaney, carefully, and from different distances. It was painted in 1944. Yesterday, I was writing about 1943 – the year when the Harlem insurrection broke out on the night after James Baldwin’s father’s funeral, which was also the day of Baldwin’s 19th birthday. When Beauford Delaney found the money to pay for the father’s burial, and Baldwin drove through the streets of shattered glass to the burial. And then left Harlem and moved down to the Village [...] more

Beauford Delaney and James Baldwin, Notes of Native Sons

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Between the thirties and the end of World War II, there was perhaps as radical a change in the psychological perspective of the Negro American toward America as there was between the Emancipation and 1930. —Amiri Baraka, Blues People: Negro Music in White America When I looked at this painting, painted in 1948, Beauford Delaney’s Untitled (Village Street) at length this winter, I was very struck by the way one side of the painting is very clearly in color, and the other very clearly emphasizes [...] more

Beauford Delaney and Protest

Monday, June 1, 2020

In these hard days, the sounds of our neighborhood are of the unusual silence of the pandemic, the birds singing, of sirens, both ambulance sirens and police sirens, of the 7 pm neighborhood pot-banging in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter protestors, the muffled greetings between neighbors, masked and at a distance, the imagined sounds of videos of police violence that I have not played, but have read about, the imagined sounds of protests that I have not attended, but feel I can hear from a few miles away, and the imagined sounds of shattering [...] more

Delaney and Morisot Ochre: This Week in Self-Portraits

Friday, April 24, 2020

Yesterday, looking at pictures of Beauford Delaney’s Untitled , 1965, I noticed a kind of ochre in the corner that I hadn’t remembered being part of the palette. It's down in the lower right corner, near the rosy orange, under the diagonal of green. Beauford Delaney, Untitled, 1965. Art Institute of Chicago. Photo Rachel Cohen. I have also been going through Morisot paintings this week, and her self-portrait, with its ochre, came into view. Berthe Morisot, Self-Portrait , 1885, Musée Marmottan Monet. Photos Rachel [...] more
Delaney

Beauford Delaney Close Looking

Thursday, April 23, 2020

I had about a half an hour with it. The kind people who work at the Art Institute of Chicago had arranged an appointment. It was in the director’s suite, behind an administrator, who typed away at her computer while I was looking and photographing. Which is by way of saying that the impression of calm is hard-won, mostly due to the painting, and to efforts of concentration. What a painting. It’s 21 x 26 inches (53.3 by 66 cm). A [...] more
Delaney self-portrait sketches

Delaney Self-Portrait Sketches

Frederick Project: Hasty

Thursday, April 2, 2020

This morning I went for groceries, had a zoom faculty meeting, the man came to help cement the cracks in our back foundation through which the mice are coming; my husband did the kids’ school and meals, wiped down the groceries… It’s a sunny and beautiful day, New York is running out of ventilators, Chicago is on the edge of serious trouble, I am probably already too anxious to write clearly. For the last few weeks, I have had an hour or two, even three, to write, and have been [...] more
Cézanne, detail of The Bathers, Art Institute of Chicago

Blue of Paul Cézanne

Frederick Project: To Resolve

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Yesterday, I wrote about Beauford Delaney’s blue, green, and yellow – the way the blue filters down through the trees; the radiant effect of combined green and yellow. Today, I want to pursue blue. I’ve taught Rebecca Solnit’s essay on blue from her Field Guide to Getting Lost , and I’ve taught Maggie Nelson on blue in her book Bluets. Blue runs through many fields of study – those two writers and many others have traced its threads in landscape, in vision, in philosophy, memory, sorrow, tranquility. Today I’d like to think [...] more
Beauford Delaney, Untitlted. Watercolor. Detail.

Beauford Delaney in Knoxville

Frederick Project: Trees

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

I just saw it for a minute. It was low down on the storage rack, and I had to crouch down to get to it. My one attempt to photograph the whole of it is clearly angled from above. Watercolor on paper. Even in this poor photograph, the sense of the colors is not far from the actual. 12 ½ inches high and 9 ½ inches wide. A little larger than an ordinary piece of paper. The curator at the Knoxville Museum of Art, Stephen Wicks, [...] more

Abstraction and Eyes

Sunday, April 13, 2014

One of the unusual aspects of Beauford Delaney’s work as an abstract painter was that even late in his career, when he lived in Paris and had moved very fully into abstraction, he also painted very specific and characterful portraits.  These two kinds of paintings were shown together during his lifetime – at, for example, the Galerie Lambert on the Île St. Louis in 1964 – and have been shown so since his death – in particular at the Levis Gallery in Chelsea last year, an exhibition, that, regrettably, I was not in New York to see. [Here are [...] more