WORK BY ARTIST DUSTI BONGE AT THE MISSISSIPPI MUSEUM OF ART

The Mississippi Museum of Art announced its presentation of Piercing the Inner Wall: The Art of Dusti Bongé, an expansive survey revealing the full range of the pioneering artist’s oeuvre. Considered Mississippi’s first artist to work consistently in a Modernist style, Dusti Bongé (1903–93) was active in New York’s dynamic art scene and creative communities which flourished along the Gulf Coast in the 1930s through the early 1990s. During her lifetime, she created a multifaceted body of work that transitioned from figurative and Cubist depictions of scenes of her hometown Biloxi in the late 1930s, through a period of Surrealism and into Abstract Expressionism that defines her mature work.

On view February 20 through May 23, 2021, the exhibition comprises 65 paintings, 29 works on paper, and three sculptures drawn from private loans and public institutions including works from the Museum’s own collection. Piercing the Inner Wall, a presentation in the Myra and Lynn Green Root Memorial Exhibition Series, provides a singular opportunity for visitors to experience a vibrant selection of work spanning Bongé’s prodigious career.

About Dusti Bongé (1903‒1993)
Born in 1903 in Biloxi, Mississippi—a thriving seafood port city and resort destination—Dusti Bongé (nee Eunice Lyle Swetman) was the youngest of three children of a prominent banker. After graduating from Mississippi’s Blue Mountain College, she moved to Chicago to study acting. In the 1920s, she appeared on stage and in silent films there and in New York. In 1928, she married artist Archie Bongé (1901‒36) who encouraged her natural abilities as an artist. Their son Lyle was born a year later and the family moved to Biloxi in 1934. Archie built a studio in their backyard but, in 1936 he succumbed to ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). While raising Lyle and grieving for Archie, Dusti dedicated herself to her craft.

She initially exhibited in New Orleans and Biloxi until 1939, when her work went on view at the Contemporary Arts Gallery in New York City. Her art career advanced dramatically when she joined the roster of the renowned Betty Parsons Gallery in Manhattan. An artist and art dealer, Parsons was an early champion of the New York School and forerunners of Abstract Expressionism which was becoming a leading influence in the art world. In 1956, Bongé received her first solo exhibition at the Gallery, placing her in a select group of artists that included Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg, Mark Rothko, and Clyfford Still.

Continuing to be shown at Parsons Gallery until 1975, Bongé was a strong voice in the New York art scene for three decades. Throughout her career, however, Bongé maintained close ties to Biloxi where she continued to produce new work until two years before her death, in 1993.

Visitor Information
Opening Hours:
Thursday – Saturday: 10 AM – 5 PM
Sunday: noon – 5 PM

General Admission:
$15/Person
$13/Seniors and groups of 10+
$10/College students with school ID
Free for Museum Members
Free for children ages 5 and under
Free for K-12 students on Tuesdays and Thursdays thanks to Feild Co-operative Association, Inc. and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi

For more information, visit msmuseumart.org

Dusti Bongé (American, 1903-1993), Sunflower Dream, 1958. Oil on masonite. The Paul Bongé Collection.

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