Writing about the life and art essay on my pet dog for class 9 George Rodrigue. In 1980 a Baton Rouge investment group approached George Rodrigue for help in creating a lasting Louisiana memento, a book of Louisiana ghost stories to be sold at the 1984 World’s Fair in New Orleans.
Hieronymus Bosch as opposed to George Rodrigue. When I asked George about it this week, I learned that he painted these canvases from titles and themes relating to familiar legends, completing the works long before Segura wrote the stories. George approached the visual part of the project in a unique way, as opposed to traditional illustration. Each of the forty stories inspired one painting, which suggested a somewhat vague reference to the content. This way he had more artistic freedom and was less bound by specifics in the text. Rodrigue heard often as a boy. George didn’t paint the dog at all.
Rodrigue searched his vast photo files for a suitable image. More than anything, Tiffany was his studio companion. George paints sometimes all night, and no one else sat up watching, but Tiffany did, and he snapped hundreds of photos of her over the years just by grabbing his camera, leaning off of his stool, and capturing her expression as she stared up at him at his easel. I felt this desperate need to convince people that this painting was in no way representative of or even suggestive of Tiffany, the family pet — a compendium that reduced the painting’s significance to nothing more than a pet portrait or a memorial. The photo of Tiffany, no question, was important, but it was all about the strong shape. It was not a small dog sitting at someone’s feet or in the background. Rodrigue’s dog image is out front and center, painted like a person, locked in.
As with all of his paintings, whether Cajun people or trees or other objects, there is the strong sense of deliberateness — that if one tried to move the dog just a little bit to the left or right or up or down, then the entire composition would lose its coherence. In a sense, it would also lose its simplicity. Rodrigue created his design and drew his sketch. It was time to paint. Rather, George thought that the dark night sky would cast a blue-grey shade on the dog’s fur.
As a late decision he made the eyes red, further suggesting the devil-dog legend. But it did haunt George. He liked this strong figure and its odd color, a powerful shape that held its own without being a tree or a Cajun figure. There’s a common misconception that George painted the Blue Dog and immediately stopped painting Cajuns and never explored other ideas. And his reputation as a portrait artist expanded greatly during this period. 36×48 inches, from 1989, both commissioned by the Republican National Party.
It wasn’t until an exhibition of sixty Rodrigue paintings in Los Angeles in 1988 that George first heard a new phrase. What are they talking about? George left that show with a lot to think about. He was shocked that it took a California audience to recognize this new, strong phenomenon in his work. When he returned to Louisiana and to his easel, he experimented. The other changes, and there are many, took place over the next twenty years, resulting in an image that no longer resembles or even suggests its dark roots.
Believe it or not, I’ve barely touched on the history here. I struggled with how to explain the Blue Dog to children. Although Pop in nature, it is unlike Andy Warhol, who took everyday commercial products such as Brillo Boxes and Dollar Bills from the popular culture and inserted them back into that same culture as a piece of art. In George’s case, he invented the image itself — a non-commercial, completely unique painted illusion, which he introduced to the public from the very beginning not as a cartoon, not as a stuffed animal, not as a mouthpiece, and not even as a logo, but always, only, as a piece of art. Imagine if you each had a piece of paper and a crayon, and I asked you to draw the bogeyman. I believe you would each draw something different.
There was no picture of what it looks like. He created it from his head. And in turn, he created the Blue Dog. Thank you for such a wonderful blog. It fosters a deeper appreciation for both his work and your words. Thank you for the great blog. It gave a whole lot more meaning to my tattoo of Blue Dog.
Now I know it likely came from the Bayou Collection and its great to know so much more about the thought behind this great art. Thank you for the Blue Dog story. I lived in Lafayette for six years. While attending UL, I worked at The Bulldog on Gen. One day a patron told me George Rodrigue got the inspiration for the Blue Dog from a neighborhood guy named Travis. Let’s just say Travis was quite an eccentric.
Tiffany was his studio companion. Leaning off of his stool, i love your husbands “BLUE DOGS”. Pick up “Bayou, which suggested a somewhat vague reference to the content. Creating a dominant impression, we moved from Baton Rouge almost three years ago. Majoring in Art History and English, and lecture widely on his art.