Gabriel Tenabe describes Beauford Delaney as one of the early African American abstract expressionist painters whose work was inspired by Vincent Van Gogh and the Fauvists. These paintings are characterized by thickly applied paint in brilliant colors.
In the beginning, he concentrated mostly on portraits of friends as well as homeless perosns roaming the streets of New York City, and landscapes. Later, his work turned completely abstract.
Delaney's work is in the collections of Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland; Newark Museum, Newwark, New Jersey; Schomburg Center, New York City; Whtiney Museum of American Art, New York City; and the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.
David Driskell commented on Artis's work in an exhibition catalogue for a show at Fisk University in the early 1970s. He said, "[Artis] has showed the beauty of his people, modeled and shaped in bronze, clay; black and beautiful." He continued, "He has not attempted to solve problems with his art but has seen beyond those obstacles often binding the human spirit. He has encountered through his art the meaning of a universal world."
Artis's work is in the collections of the Walker Art Center, New York City; Slater Memorial Museum, Norwich, Connecticut; Howard University, Washington, DC; Atlanta University Museum, Atlanta, Georgia; Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, Nebraska; and the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.