George Dureau, a native New Orleanian, has been exhibiting paintings and charcoal drawings since the 1960s. In a style self-described as “Classical Romantic”, he has always demonstrated a singular ability to render the beauty of the human figure in intricate compositions often inspired by allegorical scenes from great paintings and sculpture in Western art. Dureau has stated that, “after drawing and composing with much control and clear intention” he would then proceed “to paint with passion and often abandon.”
Beyond New Orleans, Dureau’s reputation as a photographer is more prominent however. In the 1970s, he began photographing his models – most male, often nude, some with physical disabilities. In 2012, he received critical acclaim in the New York Times following the first New York exhibition of his photography. Critic Roberta Smith described the photographs as “wonderfully immediate and alive,” sharing “an emotional realism and a sense of intimacy between artist and sitter of the kind that also enriches the portrait paintings of Alice Neel.” On the frequent comparison to photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, who was largely influenced by Dureau, she explains that, “Mr. Dureau’s subjects have an individuality, vulnerability and intensely personal gravity that Mapplethorpe’s more objectified models often lack.” Literary scholar Claude J. Summers defined it as “foremost a matter of empathy.”
The works in this exhibition of paintings, drawings and photographs date from the 1960s through the 1990s.