George Dunbar: Elements of Chance is the first comprehensive museum retrospective for the artist George Dunbar (American, born 1927), who played a pivotal role in introducing abstract art to the South. The exhibition explores the evolution of Dunbar’s art from his early action paintings from the 1940s and 1950s to his most recent work in clay relief. A Louisiana 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 the lush, elemental materials that call forth the region’s distinctive local landscape.
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. Through his work as an artist, as well as his role as a founder of Orleans Gallery, New Orleans’ first artist-owned and operated collective art gallery, Dunbar helped create a culture and context for contemporary art in the city. He introduced the city to vanguard new ideas, embracing elements of chance in his art making in ways that were brand new for the city at the time, and continue to shape contemporary art in New Orleans today.
George Dunbar: Elements of Chance will be accompanied by a limited-edition artist book and catalogue created in collaboration with George Dunbar, which contains an in-depth interview with the artist by Susan M. Taylor, NOMA’s Montine McDaniel Freeman Director, and an essay that contextualizes Dunbar’s work within the rich history of 20th-century American art by Katie A. Pfohl, NOMA’s Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. The catalogue will be available in NOMA’s museum shop alongside a variety of other holiday gift items that celebrate Dunbar’s stunning artworks in gold and silver leaf.
George Dunbar: Elements of Chance is organized by NOMA and is supported in part by Michele Reynoir and Kevin Clifford, Kitty and Stephen Sherrill, Donna Perret Rosen and Benjamin M. Rosen, and Mr. and Mrs. Thomas B. Lemann. Additional support is provided by the family of Eugenie Huger in her memory, Pia and Malcolm Ehrhardt, Elizabeth and Chip Goodyear, and Basi and Michael Carbine.