On the previous post I said that George Rodrigue is primarily known for his Blue Dog paintings. It started when he was asked in 1980 to  illustrate a book of Louisiana ghost stories to be sold at the 1984 World’s Fair in New Orleans.

Slaughter House, Loup-garou Bleu, George Rodrigue (1983)

He researches regional myths and legends for imagery. He devotes three years to painting 40 canvases from story titles and themes. 

Meanwhile, author Chris Segura is writing 40 ghost stories for Bayou (Inkwell Press, 1984). Apparently, there was no collaboration between the two; Rodrigue didn’t read any of  the actual stories.

His wife Wendy said, “they are wrought with macabre literary vignettes, better illustrated by Hieronymus Bosch as opposed to George Rodrigue.”

But it was one story, Slaughter House, that launched an artistic phenomenon. The story tells (in the mildest and simplest possible summary) of an evil dog that guards a house. 

George used this opportunity to paint the loup-garou, a word translated from the French as ‘werewolf,’ and a story he heard often as a boy.

“Absolut Rodrigue” George Rodrigue (1993)

He uses a picture of the family dog as a model because he liked the shape. Wendy said after Bayou was published, she had a “desperate need to convince people” the loup-garou wasn’t remotely suggestive of their dog’s personality.

Jump to 1992. Michel Roux of Absolut Vodka follows Rodrigue in his van. He commissions Rodrigue, on the spot,  to create an Absolut Louisiana for their Statehood campaign. Absolut Louisiana is the most successful painting in the 50-state series. The posters sell out in less than two hours. 

A year later, the Louisiana Blue Dog has widespread fame. Rodrigue is again commissioned by Roux to paint Absolut Rodrigue. It’s run as a full-page in hundreds of newspapers and magazines for the next two tears. By 1999, Absolute Rodrigue was one of the 16 best-selling Absolut art pieces, exceeding even Jean-Michel Basquiat

There’s more to tell, but to use Wendy’s phrase, “this is the loup-garou story in it’s mildest and most simple summary.” 

Washington Blue Dog, George Rodrigue

This is the blue dog picture I was talking about on the other post when I said, “there was an earlier mix-up when Rodrigue and Wendy first went to meet the Clintons, he was supposed to provide ‘prints appropriate as official state gifts from the Clinton White House.’ He created a special lithograph of his Washington Blue Dog, but Clinton cancelled the presentation because he thought Rodrigue was the instigator of Blue Dog democrats.”

And here’s the Blues Brothers. He painted two versions of it.

My Blues Brothers, George Rodrigue, 1995


NOTE: Absolut Vodka began its partnership with the arts in 1985. ABSOLUT WARHOL was the introductory piece.