Dureau, on the other hand, was a people person, not an aesthete like either Mapplethorpe or Weston. His pictures breathe, they pulse, they are hot with the blood and sweat of the sitters who joined him in his apartment on Esplanade Street in the city where he was born, and sometimes posed with props that were part of his personal effects. Edward Lucie-Smith, who wrote a fine introduction to a book of Dureau’s photographs published in the 1980s, compared the artist’s ability to transform these autobiographical encounters into photographically classical pictures with the writing strategies of Baudelaire, most notably in the Tableaux Parisiens of Les Fleurs du Mal.
George Dureau’s Black, at Higher Pictures through July 13 is a jewel of an exhibition comprised of only 15 black-and-white prints. Though the artist is in his eighties, and though the photos on view are from the ’70s and ’80s, for many of us, this small show serves as an introduction to Dureau’s work.
The first New York exhibition of George Dureau’s black-and-white photographs, mostly of bare-chested or nude young men, is long overdue. Mr. Dureau, who was born in New Orleans in 1930 and has lived most of his life there, began taking them in the early 1970s. The photographs were partly intended as studies for his figurative paintings, which they tend to overshadow.
The exhaustive, 186-piece retrospective of George Dureau’s photography at the Contemporary Arts Center may very well offend you. To begin with, the 69-year-old artist’s principle subject is the nude male, with no detail left unexposed.
LAST MONTH, while the Contemporary Arts Center’s “Body Photographic” attempted nobly to survey the range of today’s camera artists working with the figure – the most traditional of subjects – some other galleries took on tradition too, but more generally. And their efforts seemed especially insouciant, as if traditionalism were as much the order of the day as any remnants of the avant-garde. In short, as if the distinction no longer mattered. It was an encouraging sight.
George Dureau: paintings; Clyde Connell; paintings and sculptures; and Wellington Reiter: environmental installation; all at the Arthur Roger Gallery, 432 Magazine St., through April 22.
George Dureau: The Modern Heroic Figure BY TERRINGTON CALAS NO ONE WHO has seen — not merely noticed — great Mannerist or Baroque painting, can be unmoved by the sly and brilliant allusions to them in George Dureau’s new work (recently at the Arthur Roger Gallery). The allusions are perhaps unwitting, but they are there…
Artists in Search of Timeless Things BY ROGER GREEN EXCERPT Monumental drawings Dureau is known primarily as a painter and photographer. Lately, however, he has been working on a monumental sculptural project: a set of metal gates, with allegorical figures, for the New Orleans Museum of Art. The ornamental gates, on which he is collaborating…
When his car was stolen recently by a 4-foot-8, 24-year-old “boy,” George Dureau already had photographs of both boy and car. Dureau explains that in his art work he uses people he likes, “like the boy who stole the car.”
If you wander into the back room at Jamison/Thomas Gallery this month, you might be in for a shock. Lined up over the gallery’s storage racks are a series of boldly composed photographs of nude black men and portraits of men with congenital deformities.