The Louisiana legend, George Rodrigue, whose Blue Dog paintings made him famous worldwide, has died at age 69 after a long battle with cancer.
RIP to a beautiful soul.
“Painting it has become as natural to me as eating and sleeping. I have become the Blue Dog man.”
Known for his darkly evocative landscapes of his Bayou home in Louisiana, Rodrigue first conjured what would go on to become his staple image when he was commissioned to do a book on Cajun folklore. He began with a local legend, a werewolf said to roam the swamps, ready to attack any young girl who dared to stay out late. The artist visualized the animal sitting in a graveyard, his coat cast blue under the glow of moonlight, searching the night with red eyes. Working from a photo of Tiffany, Rodrigue’s terrier-spaniel who died in 1984, the images of the dog and the werewolf became one on the canvas. Over the years, that image evolved into a dog with electric blue fur and yellow eyes—the famed Blue Dog.
The moment Rodrigue placed a painting in the window of his gallery, the public reaction was overwhelming. The image had universal appeal and Rodrigue says he is still surprised to see some people cry when they come to the gallery and stare into those piercing, yellow eyes. “It’s not just a dog but a dog trapped in that same uncertainty all people feel,” he explains.
“He faces the same problems and questions about life that we all have, elevating it to the spirit of man.”
There are currently Blue Dog galleries in New Orleans, Carmel, California, and Tokyo, as well as around 1200 Blue Dog paintings. The famous canine has been seen hanging on the set of the TV show Friends or featured in the legendary ad campaign for Absolut Vodka.
Rodrigue’s life has been forever altered by the popularity of his creation. Celebrities asking to be portrayed with the Blue Dog include Whoopie Goldberg, Harry Connick, Jr. and even President Clinton.