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George Valentine Dureau - Life and Art in New Orleans

George Valentine Dureau

Life and Art in New Orleans

By Howard Philips Smith
Foreword by Daniel Hammer
Hardcover : 9781496853837, 360 pages, 728 color illustrations; 2 maps, January 2025
Expected to ship: 2025-01-15

An expansive and beautiful survey of one of New Orleans’s most accomplished and provocative artists


New Orleans artist George Valentine Dureau (1930–2014) has always been an enigma. His status as an important artist gained momentum beginning with his first exhibition at the New Orleans Museum of Art, then the Isaac Delgado Museum of Art, in the mid-1960s. Not only did his career undergo a meteoric rise, but his work proved at once controversial and provocative, nuanced and groundbreaking. Critics and collectors embraced his bold images, describing them as sexual, sensual, exploitative, erotic, iconoclastic, and innovative. Beneath the surface, Dureau was even more complex as a person and persona, as he crafted a sensational character out of his artistic acumen. His reputation dimmed after his death, but in recent years his importance, and that of the New Orleans art scene he occupied, has once again been recognized.

George Valentine Dureau: Life and Art in New Orleans reassembles the pieces of Dureau’s puzzle-work life. The complexity of his life came together in the studio, where he created some of the most important artworks of the latter twentieth century. This lush publication features 100 large-format photographic plates, most of which have never been seen or published and surprisingly some in color. There are more than 200 illustrations and two essays to accompany the plates, along with a special section devoted to the artists and artwork of 1980s New Orleans, featuring hundreds of additional photographs, and several appendices of supplementary materials, such as interview transcripts, a timeline of Dureau’s life and career, a map of important locations, and a section on relevant art publications, invitations, and posters.


"Painter and photographer George Dureau deserves national recognition, as does the Bohemian art world that flourished in New Orleans in the late twentieth century. With Howard Philips Smith's comprehensive study, this will no longer be an underappreciated chapter in the history of contemporary art in America."

- E. John Bullard, director emeritus of the New Orleans Museum of Art