Dusti Bongé late work – experimental watercolor

Artmaking is a passion which fills a lifetime. Monet, Renoir, Matisse, Picasso, all of them worked until their last days. This week’s artwork from Dusti Bongé in partnership with the Dusti Bongé Art Foundation in Biloxi, MS was completed by the artist at age 83. Bongé would live to be 90 years old, dying in 1993. Her last completed painting was 1991.

Analysis of the artwork comes from Dusti Bongé Art Foundation Executive Director Ligia M. Römer.

Dusti Bongé, Untitled (Blue Squares on Pink Ground), 1986, watercolor on paper, 6” x 9” 

When Dusti Bongé stated that she loved all colors, she really meant it. Over the years her color palette continually shifted from bright to dark to subtly muted, to monochromatic. She would use complimentary colors as well as contrasting colors. At times she would employ multiple colors in one work, at other times she would use a very limited range of colors, or various shades of the same hue.

​These explorations in color appear throughout her entire career: in her early works depicting Biloxi scenes, still lifes and portraits, in her fantastical surrealist works, in her abstract expressionist master pieces, and during her incredibly prolific later years.

She also did these color experiments at all scales. As she once said: “I love color, I love color everywhere. I love dull colors, I love gray colors—they don’t have to be bright.”

​This small work on paper from 1986 (Dusti was 83 at the time) is clear evidence that she never stopped experimenting with colors. Here, she avails herself of a very limited palette of pink and blue, which are close together in the color spectrum, and a hint of gray. She uses these in a rather minimalist composition with two squares each containing another square and a small circle. And yet, with these few colors and elements she creates a work with intriguing interplay between the two squares in relationship to one another, and in their respective relationships to the pink field of color.

They alternately appear to recede or advance in relation to the pink background​, depending on the shade of blue used.

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