Dusti Bongé floral still life

See Great Art’s partnership with the Dusti Bongé Art Foundation in Biloxi, Mississippi brings us a splash of color this week. A small, brushy Dusti Bongé floral still life watercolor. Insight into the artwork, as always, comes from Dusti Bongé Art Foundation Executive Director Ligia M. Römer.

Dusti Bongé, Untitled (Floral Still Life), c. 1937, watercolor on paper, 8 1/2” x 11″

Dusti Bongé enjoyed fresh flowers at home, and she enjoyed them as the subject matter of her early still life paintings and drawings. Although she often gravitated toward her favorite, the sunflower, she clearly appreciated the beauty of other flowers as well. as we can see in this colorful still life.

Here we are presented with is a loosely arranged bouquet of deep red flowers, interspersed with cascading light blue ones, pale yellow ones, and dark green leaves. Like the bouquet itself, Dusti’s representation of it in the painting is wonderfully free and loose as well. You can sense the quick movements of her paint brush in both the light lines and the solid strokes.

Notice that the actual flowers are not clearly identifiably, nor does it seem necessary in order to appreciate the work. Rather, the painting captures their color and liveliness.

Dusti also offers us an interesting configuration in this work.

The vase is basically centered in the composition, thus setting up a potential symmetry. However, the arrangement of the flowers in the vase, and the shift from light to dark in the background, immediately undo whatever initial symmetry she may have established. Furthermore, although centered, the vase nonetheless is largely cut off at the bottom of the painting, an unusual and bold move. By almost removing the actual vase holding the flowers, the focus is on the flowers themselves and their loose interplay rather than their formal arrangement.

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