George Rodrigue – American Artist

George Rodrigue (American, Louisiana, 1944 to 2013)


A native of New Iberia, Louisiana, George Rodrigue was not only an accomplished artist, he was also a savvy businessman and philanthropist. A student of the University of Louisiana and the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, Rodrigue began his career in illustration, before turning to painting full time.

His earliest works, steeped in the Acadian lore and Cajun history of his ancestors and stylistically reminiscent of the French primitive artists, caught the attention of the European art community: in 1974 he was awarded the prestigious Tommaso Campanella Gold Medal from the Academia Internazionale di Lettere – Arti-Scienze in Rome; in 1975 he received an Honorary Mention from Le Salon des Artistes, Paris. With these atmospheric paintings of the Louisiana landscape and its people, Rodrigue employed a color palette of rich greens and blues, emphasizing the dramatic interplay of light and shadow.
Rodrigue’s most famous creation, the Blue Dog, was a serendipitous accident. Commissioned with creating the illustrations for a book of local ghost stories, the artist used a version of his own deceased dog Tiffany as a modern version of the Cajun ghost dog, the “loup-garou”. This image resonated with the public in a nearly unprecedented manner, and the Blue Dog soon attained the status of an American Pop icon.

With the popularity of the Blue Dog, Rodrigue soon found himself a highly sought-after artist. He received numerous commissions for everything from the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation, the iconic Absolut Vodka ad campaign, and portraits of local luminaries. During these years, Rodrigue became increasingly active in the non-profit community; this culminated in the formation in 2009 of the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts, a non-profit organization which advocates the importance of the visual arts in the education of young people. In the years since its inception, the Foundation has created scholarships, raised money for art supplies in local schools, and has sponsored art classes.
The recipient of numerous awards and accolades, George Rodrigue most recently received the Opus Award from the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.

New Orleans Auction Galleries was saddened to hear of George Rodrigue’s passing on December 14, 2013. We were honored to have had the opportunity to work with the artist and his Foundation. He will be greatly missed by the art community.

Information courtesy of New Orleans Auction Gallery, January 2014.

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