Dusti Bongé Abstract Expressionism

Dusti Bongé Abstract Expressionism paintings in an exhibition at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans was where I first turned on to the artist. I was astonished by her bold use of color, her brave brushstrokes, the grandeur of her vision.

The Abstract Expressionist movement is best known for its men – Pollack, de Kooning, Rothko, Still. Props to them all, but the women were just as good – de Kooning, Krasner, Frankenthaler, Hartigan.

Had Dusti Bongé chosen to stay in New York and incorporate herself fully into the Abstract Expressionism artist and gallery scene there instead of returning to Biloxi, MS to raise her family, I believe she would be as renowned as the “9th Street Women.”

Judge for yourself in this Abstract Expressionist painting detailed by Executive Director of the Dusti Bongé Art Foundation, Ligia M. Römer.

Dusti Bongé, Rose & Magenta, 1957, oil on Masonite, 45” x 30,”

Lyle Bongé, Dusti Bongé Painting Rose & Magenta, 1957. Photograph, Bongé Family Archives

Lyle Bongé, Dusti Bongé Painting Rose & Magenta, 1957. Photograph, Bongé Family Archives
Lyle Bongé, Dusti Bongé Painting Rose & Magenta, 1957. Photograph, Bongé Family Archives

This week we share with you a work of art and a photo celebrating the woman behind it. 

This painting is a quintessential example of Abstract Expressionism. It presents broad powerful brush strokes, deep colors, and one can sense the actual gestural act of painting. The work indeed features a wide swath of rose and magenta, adjacent colors in the color wheel, in a strong composition against a partly mustardy yellow background.

A dark vertical fissure, just left of center, interrupts the large rose and magenta form, appearing almost like a scar. It also adds a sense of depth that goes far beyond the juxtaposition of foreground and background.

In the photograph, taken by Dusti Bongé’s photographer son, Lyle Bongé, you can see Dusti working on this very painting in her studio in 1957, likely preparing for her next show at the Betty Parsons Gallery in New York. She is contemplating her brush as if to ask it where to make her next mark.

The broadness of the brush is evidence of the inherent expressive power and energy with which Dusti wielded it, a power and energy that this painting embodies. All in all, a powerful painting by a talented, strong woman.

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