Dusti Bongé pastel ‘House with Awnings’

Each week, See Great Art will share one of Dusti Bongé’s artworks with analysis of the piece from Ligia Römer, PhD, and Executive Director at the Dusti Bongé Art Foundation. This week gives us a view into Bongé’s artistic process as we have both a pastel on paper and the charcoal sketch which predated it. Bongé would go on to paint watercolor and oil on canvas pictures of this same subject.

Study for House with Awnings: National Sketchbook, 1939, pastel on paper, 10” x 7 ¾” and Untitled (Beach Tent) or House with Awnings, 1944, charcoal on paper, 17” x 13 ¾”.

Dusti Bongé, Untitled (Beach Tent) or House with Awnings, 1944, charcoal on paper, 17” x 13 ¾”. Courtesy Dusti Bongé Art Foundation.

By Ligia Römer:

Dusti Bongé was interested in several local architectural elements during her early career as she was developing her skills and her uniquely modern style.  She sketched and painted waterfront factories, workers camps, but also uniquely southern structures like shooflies and awnings. These are two of her many sketches of awnings, one in pastel in a sketchbook, one in charcoal from a large sketchpad. There are awning drawings in several of her early sketchbooks. Eventually, she painted the awnings both in watercolor and in oil. 

In the first sketch, from around 1939, the depiction of the building with its red roofs and frilly awnings still has a hint of realism, albeit a very loose interpretation. We are looking at the building with its columns, roofs, awnings, and palm trees in the background. In the second charcoal sketch form around 1944, you clearly see her cubist tendencies have come to dominate the representational approach. The roofs and awnings become individual segmented shapes revealing the structure to us from multiple angles and the whole is rendered from a birds-eye view.

You can see both the watercolor and the oil painting of House with Awnings (sometimes also referred to as Cabanas on the Beach) at the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson.

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