Goings On About Town: Art

by Vince Aletti

George Dureau, Black 1973 – 1986

The New Yorker


These black-and-white photographs of black men by the New Orleans-based painter will inevitably be compared to Robert Mapplethorpe’s more notorious pictures. But, while the artists, both white, were contemporaries and shared certain formal concerns, Dureau began his series before Mapplethorpe undertook his (the vintage prints here were made between 1973 and 1986) and brought more empathy and genuine heat to his project. His subjects are almost always set against a neutral studio background, for maximum impact, yet the images’ graphic elegance is balanced by something down-to-earth: a desire driven by a sense of common connection rather than by a fetish for otherness. Through July 13.