Featured Artist: George Rodrigue

George Rodrigue, best known for his Blue Dog paintings and prints, was born in 1944, in the Acadiana region of the state of Louisiana, USA.  His strong Cajun roots influenced his art throughout his life.  Indeed, the Blue Dog was created from a combination of memories of the local Louisiana legends of the loup garou (a French Louisiana variant of the European werewolf tale) and his deceased pet dog.  Originally the Blue Dog appeared in his paintings and prints as a more menacing character with glowing red eyes, but later transitioned into a more humorous figure.

My Baby Made a Clown of Me (Big Top Dog) by George Rodrigue, 1991, acrylic on canvas

He attended the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, but it was in Los Angeles at the Art Center College of Design that he was exposed to the pop art that greatly influenced his later work.  After completing his degree in Los Angeles, he returned home to Louisiana to pursue his career as an artist even though the major art scene was in New York City.  After a stint as an art director for an advertising agency, he began painting full time and in 1969 was commissioned by then Louisiana governor John McKeithen to create a painting that would become Louisiana’s gift to the Prime Minister of Quebec.

Stacked by George Rodrigue, 2001, acrylic on canvas

Prior to painting his first blue dog in 1984, George Rodrigue’s subjects focused mainly on oak trees, Cajun myths, people, and traditions.  He has exhibited his works in venues around the world and in 1992 was chosen by Absolut Vodka as an influential pop artist.  His works appeared in national advertising campaigns for Absolute Vodka alongside artists like Andy Warhol and Hans Godo Frabel.

The Wild Blue Yonder by George Rodrigue, 2000, acrylic on canvas

In 2005 George and his family were displaced by Hurricane Katrina.  He painted We Will Rise Again directly in response to the devastation caused by the storm.  This work later became the first in a series of five paintings used to fund his charitable initiative, Blue Dog Relief: George Rodrigue Art Campaign for Recovery, to aid the New Orleans Museum of Art.  The museum had been closed for months due to the massive flood damage caused by the storm.  Prior to Hurricane Katrina George became intrigued with the weather patterns of the storms that hit Louisiana and he began painting abstract images of hurricanes.

We Will Overcome by George Rodrigue, 2005, mixed media and acrylic on canvas. Note the return of the red eyes, a reference to his early blue dog work and the original loup garou myth.

George Rodrigue’s charitable work also includes campaigns for New Orleans levee protection, the Louisiana 2-1-1 phone system, and the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts.  Mr. Rodrigue’s work continues to be recognized as some of the most influential pop art of the past thirty years.  The paintings on exhibit in the Reynolds Student Art Gallery at Texas A&M are on loan from the New Orleans Museum of Art.

Nannette by George Rodrigue, 2003, oil on canvas

George Rodrigue’s homepage.

His wife Wendy also has an art blog in which she often features George’s work: Musings of an Artist’s Wife.

Portrait of Pete Fountain by George Rodrigue, 1996, acrylic on canvas
Hot Green by George Rodrigue, 2000, acrylic on canvas
Nannette (2003), Elvira (2003), and Frederic (2002) by George Rodrigue, oil on canvas

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