1944 (New Iberia, Louisiana)
2013 (Houston, Texas)
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blue dogs and bayou landscape painting, posters
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|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|Following is The New York Times obituary of the artist.|
George Rodrigue, Artist Who Painted Blue Dog, Dies at 69
By WILLIAM YARDLEY
Published: December 18, 2013
George Rodrigue, whose career as an artist started with dark and lush landscapes of his native Louisiana bayou but shifted abruptly, and profitably, when he began a series of portraits of a single subject, a melancholy mutt that came to be known as Blue Dog, died on Saturday in Houston. He was 69.
The cause was cancer, his family said.
Mr. Rodrigue, who grew up in New Iberia, in southern Louisiana, set out to document and celebrate Cajun culture with works such as The Aioli Dinner (1971), which depicts traditional gatherings on the lawns of plantations. He won recognition in France and Italy. He painted portraits of famous people, including the celebrity chef Paul Prudhomme, who helped introduce Cajun food and culture to the world in the 1970s, as well as Walker Percy, Huey Long, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev.
Among his many commissions was a request in 1984 that he do the artwork for a collection of Cajun ghost stories, including a painting of a ghost dog, or werewolf, known in his part of the world as the loup-garou.
Mr. Rodrigue (pronounced rod-REEG) found his model in his studio: a photograph of his dog, Tiffany, who had died. She was black and white in reality but became blue in his imagination, with yellow eyes. She was also a she, but she could become a he ? or, for that matter, whatever else a viewer was prepared to see.
"The yellow eyes are really the soul of the dog," Mr. Rodrigue told The New York Times in 1998. "He has this piercing stare. People say the dog keeps talking to them with the eyes, always saying something different."
He added: "People who have seen a Blue Dog painting always remember it. They are really about life, about mankind searching for answers. The dog never changes position. He just stares at you. And you're looking at him, looking for some answers, 'Why are we here?,' and he's just looking back at you, wondering the same. The dog doesn't know. You can see this longing in his eyes, this longing for love, answers."
By the early 1990s, Mr. Rodrigue was painting only Blue Dog.
"I dropped all the Cajun influence," he said in an interview with the New Orleans public television station WLAE.
Mr. Rodrigue was born in New Iberia on March 13, 1944, the only child of George and Marie Rodrigue. His father was a bricklayer. He began learning to draw and paint after he was found to have polio at age 8 and spent several months in bed. He studied art at the University of Southwest Louisiana (now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette) in the mid-1960s and attended the Art Center College of Design (then in Los Angeles; now in Pasadena) from 1965 to 1967.
He returned to Louisiana in 1968. In 1976, he published his first book, The Cajuns of George Rodrigue."
Survivors include his wife, Wendy, and two sons, Jacques and Andre.
Louisiana's governor, Bobby Jindal, and a former governor, Kathleen Blanco, as well as the musician Irvin Mayfield, were among those scheduled to speak at a memorial service for him on Thursday at St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans. Mr. Rodrigue boasted that it was not uncommon for his Blue Dog paintings to sell for $25,000. Some were rumored to have sold for 10 times that.
He painted Blue Dogs with presidents, with naked women in faux French scenes, on the lawn with his Aioli dining club party, inside a soup can, in ads for Absolut Vodka and next to Marilyn Monroe (return jabs, perhaps, at those who dismissed him as a Pop Art opportunist). Critics were not always impressed, but he said he did not care.
In later years Mr. Rodrigue painted other subjects, but he did not abandon Blue Dog. He said he painted in part for the people who walked past his studio on Royal Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans.
"You have to do something that really attracts the attention," he said in the WLAE interview. "I didn't start out doing that, but that's to fight for that audience. It's great. It's really great, because it's a cross-section of the whole country here that walks down Royal Street, and the world."
|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|From New Iberia, Louisiana, George Rodrigue is known for his Blue-Dog series, inspired by his long-deceased childhood pet, Tiffany, whom he poses with other animals and people. He had early art talent, and ill for nearly a year, he used watercolors and crayons to pass the time and this activity set his future. He studied at the University of Southwestern Louisiana and in Los Angeles at the Art Center College of Design. For awhile he painted Abstract Expressionist works but then went back to painting that which reflected his own Cajun culture including folk tales and bayou and swamp landscapes. |
Gradually a black and white spaniel, based on his childhood companion, Tiffany, appeared more and more in Rodgrigue's paintings and became the Blue Dog, now a compelling and humorous pop figure in his original and silk screen reproductions. In 2000, representatives of the Xerox Corporation commissioned Rodrigue with a multi-million dollar contract to do a series of Blue-Dog paintings to promote their printers.
George Rodrigue is also the artist for the Absolut Vodka ads, and has created the artwork for three of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival posters. The 1995 poster with the portrait of Louis Armstrong and the 1996 one featuring Pete Fountain have become collectors' items.
George Rodrigue and his wife, Wendy, have created the House of Blues Foundation Room to support arts and cultural programs for youth. Money is raised through the sale of his paintings.
A George Rodrigue Museum is in Lafayette, Louisiana.
Renee Targos, 'Mythical Creatures', ART-TALK, March 2005
|Biography from Zigler Museum:|
|George Rodrigue was born and reared along the banks of the winding Bayou Teche in New Iberia, Louisiana. He now lives and works in Lafayette. Rodrigue attended the University of Southwestern Louisiana and the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles. After working briefly in New York as a commercial artist, he returned to his native Louisiana in 1967 to paint the Cajun culture that so dominated his imagination.|
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