Dusti Bongé self portrait sketch from 1965

A self-portrait from Dusti Bongé is next up in our partnership with the Dusti Bongé Art Foundation in Biloxi, MS. Bongé is not especially known for her self-portraits, or portraits for that manner, but she did produce a few, and quite good at that.

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

Bienfang Sketch Diary Bound, Page Three, c. 1965, pastel on paper, 11” x 8 1/2”

Herewith a strong self-portrait Dusti Bongé sketched in a wire-bound sketchbook from 1965. This sketch is page three in the sketchbook, which only has eight pages remaining of its original 70 sheet count. Being from 1965, this self-portrait is rather unusual, since Dusti did most of her self-portraits during the early years of her career as part of the standard exercises in her rigorous self-teaching practice. But by the mid 1960’s she had been fully engaged in abstract expressionist work for well over a decade.   

Even the sketchbook that contains this drawing is otherwise filled with quick abstract compositions. Most of these are brisk studies in felt tip pen which are all created with repetitive marks of an ideographic nature.

This study clearly stands out among these, both given its subject matter and its medium. Rather than the hard-edged, defined lines of the felt tip pen, this sketch exemplifies the ease and range of mark making pastels allow.

Loosely sketched with both wide, soft strokes and crisply defined lines, Dusti represents her own face with stunning effectiveness. With simple gestures she captures her piercing eyes, her determined expression, and her inner confidence. There are no belabored aspects, nor stylized details, just the essence of who she is. All that with a remarkably efficient mark making technique.

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