George Dureau: The Photographs
is an album of the great photographic portraits made throughout the 40 years of Dureau’s artistic career—a New Orleans romance between the photographer and his subjects. All of Dureau’s exquisite photographs, many of them nudes of black and disabled men, were made in his studio in the French Quarter of New Orleans, or on the city’s streets. He began photography for the pleasure of photographing his lovers, and as research material for his paintings. Only later on did he begin to take his photographs seriously as works of art in their own right. Many of his subjects became part of Dureau’s "extended family," whom he photographed on different occasions over many years. Surprisingly, only one book of Dureau’s photographs has been published, New Orleans
(1985), a modest paperback long out of print. This Aperture book is possible now because of the commitment of Dureau’s supporters. George Dureau: The Photographs
is edited by Chris Boot, with a text by Philip Gefter. George Dureau
(1930–2014) was a painter, sculptor and photographer known for his focus on the male nude. His paintings, which draw on classical and baroque traditions, command regional and national recognition, and his photographs of nudes, street people and people who are maimed and deformed (often figures also incorporated within his paintings and sculptures) have garnered international acclaim. Often compared to Robert Mapplethorpe’s work, Dureau’s black male nudes predate Mapplethorpe’s Black Book
pictures by several years. Also classically formal, they distinguish themselves from Mapplethorpe’s work by the nature of the connection between photographer and subject. Dureau’s career has been the subject of retrospectives at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art (2006 and 2011) and the New Orleans Museum of Art (2009). The first exhibition of his photographs in New York (at Higher Pictures) was in 2012.
Philip Gefter was on staff at The New York Times for over fifteen years, where he wrote regularly about photography. His essays are collected in the book Photography After Frank (2009). His biography of Sam Wagstaff, Wagstaff: Before and After Mapplethorpe, was published in 2014 (Liveright). He is currently at work on a biography of Richard Avedon. He lives in New York City.