The mission of the Dusti Bongé Art Foundation (DBAF) is to promote the artistic legacy of Modernist artist Dusti Bongé, and her significant contribution to 20th century Art.
Dusti Bongé (1903-1993), neé Eunice Lyle Swetman, was a member of the first generation of abstract expressionist painters, the incomparable American art movement of the 20th Century. A native of Biloxi, Mississippi, Bongé showed with the groundbreaking Betty Parsons Gallery in New York from the 1940s through the 1970s in the company of Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and other major players of that time. Although Dusti Bongé is recognized as the first truly modernist painter from Mississippi, only recently has her part in that revolutionary chapter of American art history been truly appreciated.
The DBAF fosters public appreciation of Bongé’s work by collaborating with museums, art galleries, and others on exhibitions, research, conservation, scholarship and publications. The DBAF maintains a significant collection of Bongé’s art and archival material. and we work closely with the Paul Bongé Collection. We welcome the opportunity to share knowledge about Bongé, her art, and the art historical context in which she worked.
The DBAF’s ongoing efforts include cataloging and conserving the collection of Dusti Bongé’s work, while continually promoting public awareness about the artist's life and work through different outlets, including online and other venues. Long term goals include continuing research toward a catalogue raisonné and cataloguing the artist's archive of papers and other documentation of historical value related to the artist.
The Foundation supports arts education & appreciation for all ages. To that end the DBAF maintains a gallery, free and open to the public, where we always have a selection of the artist’s works on display, allowing continual access to her art. We typically mount several exhibits a year in order to show as much of her work as possible. We invite you to visit us whenever you are on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Recent accomplishments include a major exhibit in New York, a retrospective museum exhibition, and a definitive monograph on her work. The exhibition Kinship: Dusti Bongé and Betty Parsons showed at Hollis Taggart in New York (2022). The retrospective Piercing the Inner Wall: The Art of Dusti Bongé opened in New Orleans (2019) and traveled to the Mississippi Museum of Art (2021). The academic monograph Dusti Bongé, Art and Life: Biloxi, New Orleans, New York, by J. Richard Gruber (2019) offers an in-depth look at her life and art.
The Dusti Bongé Art Foundation (DBAF) was established in 1995 in Biloxi, Mississippi, a few years after the passing of Dusti Bongé. Her family and a group of friends formed an organization to honor and promote her extensive and impressive oeuvre. The DBAF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing public awareness of, and access to, the beautiful collection of works Bongé left as her legacy.
Since its inception, the Foundation has been engaged in cataloguing, appraising, and conserving the artwork. We have placed significant works with major regional museums. In 2011 the Foundation was endowed with a significant portion of the Family Estate, and maintains an extensive collection of her work in a variety of mediums.
Through the years, The DBAF has arranged various exhibitions, and has a continually rotating selection of works up at its gallery in Biloxi, which first opened its doors to the public in 2011.
Exhibition & Conservation
One of our major goals. in promoting public awareness about the artist's life and work, Is to present exhibitions celebrating her oeuvre. We are working continuously to promote Bongé’s work, not only regionally, but nationally and internationally, through physical and virtual means.
A necessary aspect of achieving our exhibition goal is conserving Dusti Bongé’s work. As a major beneficiary of the Family estate, the Foundation has been working for several years on getting important oil paintings conserved, ensuring that they are in stable condition, cleaned, and restored, so that they may be shared with the public long into the future. To date we have conserved over 40 paintings. Our conservation efforts are an essential and ongoing project.
Our years of consistent conservation accomplishments, in turn, have allowed us to exhibit Dusti Bongé’s work at various important venues over the recent years.
At the DBAF gallery we rotate our exhibits several times a year in order to share the broad range of work Dusti Bongé created. We invite you to visit us whenever you are on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Detail of a painting before and after conservation
Scholarship & Education
The Foundation's other high priority goals include scholarship and arts education & appreciation for all ages. In fact, we have published a major academic monograph of Dusti Bongé’s work, which offers an in-depth look at her life and art. This beautiful scholarly publication is the definitive source of information about the artist, her work, and the times she lived in.
Meanwhile, we continue with our ongoing research in compiling detailed records for a catalogue raisonné. We perpetually search for long lost works and relish unexpected new finds.
At our gallery, in Biloxi, we always have a small selection of Bongé’s works on display, so that visitors from near and far can view her art. Admission to our gallery is free. The artworks are arranged in a manner that illustrates the development of her artistic style. Art and/or Art Appreciation teachers often bring their students. Our exhibits show the evolution of her oeuvre over the course of her fifty-plus year career as an artist, allowing patrons to follow her path from her early representational works, to her surrealist explorations, on to her Abstract Expressionist masterpieces, and finally to her later more lyrical abstractions.
The Foundation has also established an annual High-school Scholarship Program, awarded to seniors who are intending to study fine art or a related field. The scholarship goes toward tuition and/or supplies at the awardee's college.