Dusti Bongé self-portrait

Dusty Bongé became one of my favorite artists when I first came across her work in 2019 at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans. She was a revelation to me! Dusti Bongé’s artwork taught me valuable lessons about how incomplete the art canon is, how prejudiced it has been against female and Southern artists, and how much more I have to learn and see.

See Great Art is excited to announce a partnership with the Dusti Bongé Art Foundation. The mission of the Dusti Bongé Art Foundation is to promote the artistic legacy of Dusti Bongé, Mississippi’s first Abstract Expressionist painter, through exhibition, conservation, scholarship and education. That is a program we can get behind!

The DBAF offices are located in Biloxi, MS and open to visitors for discovery.

Each week, See Great Art will share one of Bongé’s artworks with analysis of the piece from Ligia Römer, PhD, Executive Director at the Dusti Bongé Art Foundation.

Dusti Bongé, Self Portrait, 1939, oil pastel on paper,11 1/2” x 8 1/4”

Dusti Bongé Self-portrait

TEXT BY: Ligia Römer

This week we have two works. They are both Dusti Bongé self-portraits made during her early years as a painter. In fact, these are almost identical self-portraits, one executed as a pastel drawing and one as an oil painting. We have shared the pastel drawing with you in the past.

Presenting the two self-portraits together offers a very interesting insight into Dusti’s creative process. Many artists, including Dusti, often create studies or sketches in preparation for a painting, no matter its subject matter.  These studies allow the artist to play with the composition of a painting in order to capture a dynamic and engaging set-up where the viewer gets to see the subject from a fresh new perspective. 

In the case of a self-portrait, the study process is even more revealing, because it not only allows us to understand how the artist comes to create a compelling composition, but it also hints at the inner thought process of the artist. It offers us a glimpse into how the artist wants to present herself to us. We get to experience how the artist: a) views herself as a person, b) sees herself as a subject matter for painting, and c) expresses her own inherent spirit. 

Most true artists have made self-portraits, often multiple ones, some because they know themselves better than any other subject, others perhaps to find out more about themselves.

When you visit the exhibit “Piercing the Inner Wall” at The Mississippi Museum of Art, make sure you see this early self-portrait The Balcony, that Dusti painted in the early 1940s.

What do you think?

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  • Lieve
    January 12, 2022

    Dear Chadd Scott, could you maybe share the links of the sources you used for this article? I would love to use Dusti Bongé Self-portrait for a school assignment, and this article has been really helpful! I have to find more information on the portraits so I would really appreciate it if you could share your sources. Kind regards, Lieve. 🙂

    • Chadd Scott
      January 13, 2022

      Thanks for your interest. All of my Dusti Bonge posts come from Ligia Romer, Executive Director at the Dusti Bonge Art Foundation. You can contact her directly for details on the story at: director @ dustibonge.org. Tell her I sent you her way.

      I’m sure she’ll be happy to help. Good luck with the project.