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Beauford Delaney's Untitled

When you take a closer look you can see how thick the paint is on the canvas.

The green paint was actually squeezed straight from the tube.


key idea
Traveling to Paris gave Delaney a new sense of freedom.

Beauford Delaney left New York for Paris in August 1953. Traveling to Paris had been his longtime goal. Like many artists, he thought of Paris as the capital of the art world. In search of new adventure, Delaney wanted to immerse himself in art and experience the social and intellectual life of the city’s cafés. He felt that in Paris he would have a greater sense of freedom. As a gay African American man, he faced a lot of discrimination in the United States. Paris was a more tolerant place, where he believed he would be treated with kindness and respect.

His new sense of freedom may be one reason Delaney tried a new way of painting. He made fewer portraits and city scenes, and filled his canvases with bright colors, unusual shapes, and bold lines. His work became more and more abstract, with no recognizable objects or figures. And he experimented with different ways of putting paint on the canvas. For Untitled, Delaney used not just a brush, but also palette knives, his fingers, and colors squeezed straight out of the paint tubes.

When Delaney traveled to Paris, he had the chance to visit many art museums. The paintings he saw by the French artist Claude Monet influenced his abstract paintings.
December 2004