The art of Dusti Bongé was influenced by her experiences in three distinctive American cities: Biloxi, Mississippi; New Orleans, Louisiana; and New York, New York. In developing her artistic practice in these vibrant urban settings, she portrayed a unique sense of place in her work. In Dusti Bongé, Art and Life
, which includes over five hundred color images, J. Richard Gruber documents Dusti Bongé's full career and her key role in the twentieth-century art world and in a highly creative family, including her husband, Archie (1901‒1936), her son, photographer Lyle Bongé (19292009), and her grandson, photographer Paul Bongé (b. 1963).
Born in Biloxi in 1903, she died there in 1993, living on the family property where she was raised. After graduating from Blue Mountain College in 1922, she moved to Chicago and became an actress, then moved to New York to act on stage and in silent movies. She married artist Archie Bongé in 1928 and lived in New York until they moved to Biloxi in 1934 with their child, Lyle.
Following Archies premature death in 1936, she dedicated herself to working as an artist. Initially, she exhibited in New Orleans and Biloxi, then in New York, where she became affiliated with the famed Betty Parsons Gallery in 1946. There she was given a series of one-person exhibitions in the years from 1956 to 1975. Her art achieved national recognition through her shows at the Parsons Gallery, when New York replaced Paris as an international art center, and Abstract Expressionism became a leading influence in the art world.
Dusti Bongé, Art and Life explores the full range of her creativity, extending from her stage acting to her activities in painting, sculpting, printmaking, sewing, writing, and poetry.
J. Richard Gruber, PhD, is director emeritus of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans. He also served as director of the Wichita Art Museum, director of the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, deputy director of the Morris Museum of Art and director of its Center for the Study of Southern Painting, and codirector of the Peter Joseph Gallery in New York. He has written numerous books and essays about southern art and artists.