The Vieux Carre’s figurative freak flag dropped to half-staff last week when news circulated that one of the district’s last remaining embodiments of local color had faded to black. George Dureau, one of the city’s most nationally recognized artist and a major player in the local arts scene from the 1970s through the ’90s, was dead at 83, having succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease.
NEW ORLEANS — When news of George Dureau’s death was announced by his gallery this past Monday afternoon, word traveled quickly among my extended circle of friends and professional acquaintances in New Orleans. Within a few hours, my Facebook feed was full of images of Dureau’s work, personal reminiscences, and links to quickly sketched obituaries (the longer tributes would come later) in the New Orleans Advocate and Times-Picayune.
The artist and photographer’s work ranged from the erotic to the unsettling. He was a mentor of Mapplethorpe and a long-time contributor to Drummer magazine. Long-time icon of the creative world of New Orleans, George Dureau died Monday (April 7) morning at the Walden Healthcare Center in Kenner according to NOLA.com. He was 84.
George Dureau, the painter and photographer who captured French Quarter denizens for decades using camera and brush, died today around noon, according to Arthur Roger, the art gallery owner who was Dureau’s longtime friend. Dureau was 82 and had been in poor health. “It’s been a long journey. It’s been a remarkably peaceful one. He was very restful,” Roger told Gambit this afternoon.
Artist George Dureau, master of mythic painting and hyper-realistic photography died Monday morning (April 7) at the Waldon Health Care Center in Kenner, where he was being treated for advanced Alzheimer’s disease. He was 83.
Friends of New Orleans artist George Dureau have organized a benefit auction to help defray costs of nursing and medical care for the 82-year-old French Quarter icon. Dureau, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, is confined to a nursing home. Dureau’s personal effects will go on the block at Crescent City Auction Gallery, 1330 St. Charles Ave. The July 13 auction begins at 1 p.m. and features both the studio props that appeared in Dureau’s acclaimed photographs, and a host of domestic objects. Highlights include a 19th century walnut bed; a pair of modernist chairs by Bertoia, and a cypress refectory table that Dureau, a grand entertainer, once used for dinner parties.
You enter the George Dureau exhibition expecting the celebrated interpreter of the human form, an artist who in his paintings, drawings and photography transforms the figure, even when physically compromised, into a thing of exalted beauty. You leave with that impression confirmed, but with another: an impression of timeless technical ingenuity that transcends mere talent, and, more important, a genuinely moving density of meaning.
Of all the artists this city has produced, there are probably none more representative of its iconic mix of flamboyant elegance and earthy eccentricity than George Dureau. Now 82, the painter and photographer was a French Quarter fixture for decades until his recent move to an assisted living facility. Despite his dexterously deft brushwork, most of his international reputation is based on a photographic oeuvre in which all aspects of formal technique are harnessed to his genius for conveying a striking humanistic presence. In this, he profoundly influenced one of his early studio assistants, a young man named Robert Mapplethorpe, who went on to become a New York art star. But Mapplethorpe could not match his mentor’s depth, as even that city’s art critics have noted in recent years. The work seen here is a classic Dureau sampler, and while it is easy to understand the popularity of his flamboyant paintings and drawings, it is his photographs that, while not for the faint of heart, will ensure his place in art history.
New Orleans area art fans flocked in to the Arthur Roger Gallery for the opening this weekend of “Southern Gothic: An Insider’s View by Willie Birch and Paintings, Drawings” and an exhibit of paintings, drawings and photographs by George Dureau.
Earlier this summer, Higher Pictures in New York exhibited a selection of George Dureau’s photographs of New Orleans locals shot between 1973 and 1986. Dureau traveled in both the high art world and allowed his work to be displayed in the legendary leather/SM magazine Drummer. With a cult-like following, George Dureau’s photographs are a striking…