She Was a Trailblazing Modernist Painter and a Close Friend of Betty Parsons. So Why Don’t More People Know Dusti Bongé?

Dusti Bongé, Self Portrait—The Balcony (1943). Collection of the Mississippi Museum of Art.

Dusti Bongé (1903–1993) was an actress, a debutante, Mississippi’s first Modern artist, and famed gallerist Betty Parsons’s close friend. Yet for many, her name remains wholly unfamiliar. 

Now, “Piercing the Inner Wall: The Art of Dusti Bongé,” a retrospective at the Mississippi Museum of Art, is hoping to change that. The exhibition, which includes some 65 paintings, 29 works on paper, and three sculptures, offers an in-depth look at the experimental and kaleidoscopic career of this little-known artist, and charts how her early Cubist-inspired works grew into captivating Surrealist visions and elegant abstractions. 

A new biography by curator J. Richard Gruber (Dusti Bongé, Art and Life: Biloxi, New Orleans, New York) also accompanies the exhibition. (The show was organized by the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans, where it first opened in 2019).

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