NEW ORLEANS, LA–George Dunbar: Elements of Chance is the first comprehensive museum retrospective for the artist George Dunbar (American, b. 1927), who played a pivotal role in introducing abstract art to the South. On view November 3-February 17, this exhibition explores the evolution of Dunbar’s art from his early paintings from the 1940s and 1950s to his most recent contemporary work in clay relief. A New Orleans native, Dunbar studied in Philadelphia and New York before returning to Louisiana in the 1950s to create paintings, sculptures, assemblages, and prints that marry the stark geometry of modern art with lush, elemental materials like clay and gold leaf that call forth Louisiana’s distinctive local landscape.
“NOMA is delighted to celebrate the career of one of Louisiana’s most influential and talented artists,” says Susan M. Taylor, Montine McDaniel Freeman Director. “The opportunity to showcase the work of an artist so closely connected with the New Orleans’ arts community and NOMA’s own history is especially meaningful as we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of NOMA’s Odyssey Ball this fall.”
Dunbar’s richly textured works explore abstract art’s connection to landscape and place, and his unique vision for abstraction highlights Louisiana’s pivotal—if widely underestimated—role in the broader story of 20th century American art. “George Dunbar’s work,” says Katie A. Pfohl, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, “truly helped create a context and place for contemporary art in New Orleans. In the 1950s and 1960s, he introduced New Orleans to vanguard new ideas art-making, experimenting with the relationship between accident and intention, and embracing elements of chance in his art making in ways that were brand new for most artists in New Orleans at the time.”
“Being a native New Orleanian, I’ve had the privilege of exhibiting my work at NOMA several times but have never had a true retrospective of my work,” said George Dunbar. “I am honored and humbled that NOMA has chosen to show the entire progression of my career as an artist.”
The exhibition will be accompanied by a limited-edition artist book created in collaboration with George Dunbar, which contains an in-depth interview with the artist by NOMA’s Director, Susan M. Taylor and an essay that contextualizes Dunbar’s work within the rich history of 20th-century American art by Katie Pfohl. The catalogue will be available in the Museum Shop alongside a variety of other holiday gift items that celebrate Dunbar’s unique vision for abstract and stunning artworks in gold and silver leaf.
George Dunbar: Elements of Chance is organized by the New Orleans Museum of Art. Generous support for the exhibition has been provided by Donna & Benjamin M. Rosen, Kitty & Stephen Sherrill, Michele Reynoir & Kevin Clifford and Parkside Foundation. Additional support has been provided by the family of Eugenie Huger in her memory, Pia & Malcolm Ehrhardt, Elizabeth & Chip Goodyear, and Basi & Michael Carbine.
About NOMA and the Besthoff Sculpture Garden
The New Orleans Museum of Art, founded in 1910 by Isaac Delgado, houses nearly 40,000 art objects encompassing 5,000 years of world art. Works from the permanent collection, along with continuously changing special exhibitions, are on view in the museum’s 46 galleries Fridays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The adjoining Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden features work by over 60 artists, including several of the 20th century’s master sculptors. The Sculpture Garden is open seven days a week: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The New Orleans Museum of Art and the Besthoff Sculpture Garden are fully accessible to handicapped visitors and wheelchairs are available from the front desk. For more information about NOMA, call (504) 658-4100 or visit www.noma.org. Wednesdays are free admission days for Louisiana residents, courtesy of The Helis Foundation. (May not include special exhibitions.) Teenagers (ages 13-19) receive free admission every day through the end of the year, courtesy of The Helis Foundation.