Recent Review of the Le Mieux Gallery Show Dusti Bonge: An Abstract Master Rediscovered


THE NEW YORK YEARS: During the three decades that Dusti Bongé exhibited at the Betty Parsons Gallery, major newspapers and art critics provided insightful coverage of her work. Here are selected reviews from those exciting years.


Art Reviews from the 1950s

“An interesting New York debut is made at the Betty Parsons Gallery by Dusti Bongé, a non-objective painter from Mississippi. Miss Bongé devises sternly colored compositions, given poetic titles such asForgotten Perceptions, some of which are of considerable authority and inventiveness….The exuberance of these large oils with their broad areas of bold color shows to its best advantage…where there is an equally vigorous attempt at formalization…”
New York Times, May 6, 1956

“The pedigree of Dusti Bongé’s abstract paintings at the Betty Parsons Gallery, might be put down as by Franz Kline out of Pierre Soulages. Somehow, though, the offspring is pure Bongé. The pictures are composed of a few broad swipes of the brush across a luminous ground. But they are composed rather than slapped on, and the total effect is mysterious, romantic and completely personal.”
New York Herald Tribune, 1958

Art Reviews from the 1960s

“Dusti Bongé, artist of the deep south, appears at the Betty Parsons Gallery with forceful and determinedly non-objective paintings. Having her third show here, Miss Bongé is perhaps more dramatic at this moment than she has ever been. Her canvases are extremely vigorous, dark-keyed and spacious…”
New York Herald Tribune, 1960

“In her new three-dimensional paintings-sculpture at Betty Parsons…Dusti Bongé has escaped from the tyranny of the flat surface….she makes the most of abstract painted shapes as they parade around free-standing forms. In fact, this bold breaking up of surfaces and designs considerably enhances the impression made by her work…”
Stuart Preston, New York Times, November 1962


Art Reviews from the 1970s

“This was Dusti Bongé’s first New York show in 15 years, comprising works completed in the past year or so: four fairly large abstract oils and seven pictures for windows that, with dazzlingly decorative functionalism, stole the show…The radiance emitted by these works evoked a curiously jazzy solemnity. Yves Klein blues, vivid pinks, lavenders, chartreuses and vermilions resounded against thick black lines that, like leading in stained glass, often function as interior framing devices, shaping each color and setting it apart from the others.”
Art Critic, Sarah McFadden, Art in America, Jan/Feb, 1976

Remembrance in the 1980s, offering insight into Dusti Bongés long career as an artist:

“Working alone in Biloxi, Mississippi (indeed—remembering Goethe’s thought that ‘talent is developed in solitude,’–it may be because of this), Bongé has managed to create a truly moving and different body of paintings.”
Daniel Haberman, American poet who knew Dusti Bongé, writing from Poets Corner,          Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Manhattan, 1984


In 1982 Mississippi Public Broadcasting and the University Press of Mississippi simultaneously produced a film and published a book about Dusti Bongé. Both were entitled Dusti Bongé: The Life of an Artist.

The book is filled with poems, essays and reflections by Dusti Bongé, accompanied by some 60 color  images of her paintings that imply the same emotions that her writings convey. It is a beautiful and highly personal glimpse of the depth of Dusti Bongés creativity.

Her talents are summed up in the introduction to the book by editor, Nancy Longnecker: “The amazing fact is not so much what she achieves and how she constantly creates, but that she gives the illusion of accomplishing whatever she does with great ease.”

In the film, The Life of an Artist, Dusti Bongé comes to life. We watch her as she throws open the windows to her studio, dons her overalls and begins to paint. Her energy and love of life are as evident as the passion with which she approaches her work. She discusses her life in New York as a young actress, her marriage to Archie Bongé and explains how she began to paint after his death.

Together, the book and the film provide an intimate glimpse of an extraordinary woman whose work deserves a permanent spot in the history of American art.