2022-23 American Library in Paris Book Group

The Art of Writing: Look. Look Again… or Baldwin par Delaney

Saturdays, 17h00–18h30 (Spaces Open)

“I remember standing on a street corner with the black painter Beauford Delaney in the Village, waiting for the light to change, and he pointed down and said, ‘Look.’ I looked and all I saw was water. And he said, ‘Look again,’ which I did, and I saw oil on the water and the city reflected in the puddle. It was a great revelation to me. I can’t explain it. He taught me how to see, and to trust what I saw. Painters have often taught writers how to see. And once you’ve had that experience, you see differently…”

James Baldwin, a writer, and Beauford Delaney, a painter, were both relieved—to some extent—of the burden of their identity as ‘Black’ and ‘queer’ upon relocating to Paris from New York… For Baldwin, the move marked the start of a ‘transatlantic commute.’ Paris afforded him the conditions he needed to write and ultimately engendered international fame. Although Delaney, Baldwin’s mentor, lived in relatively impoverished conditions, his Paris years were no less rich in artistic production. To the contrary, Delaney’s style evolved from figurative expressionism to lyrical abstraction in Paris. Look. Look Again… considers Baldwin’s Paris period through the lens of Delaney’s portraits.

Led by Precious Brown.

Reading List

  • Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin (1953)
  • Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin (1955)
  • Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin (1956)

Meeting Dates

  • 7 January
  • 11 February
  • 11 March
  •  8 April
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