(February 18, 2008)
Contact: Rick DelaHaya, Centenary News Services, 318.869.5073
The Odyssey of Jean Despujols Continues at Meadows Museum
SHREVEPORT, La. — The second of three portions of Jean Despujols’ journey through Indochina will be on display beginning March 2 through June 29 at the Meadow Museum of Art at Centenary College.
The paintings, drawings and documentary photographs depict the minority people of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos created by Jean Despujols during his travels through Southeast Asia from 1936 through 1938. In this second phase of his journey, the exhibition will focus in great detail on the textiles, including the traditional dress and newly acquired costumes of the Lao, Lue, Black Tai and White Tai inhabitants of the area.
In May of 1936 Jean Despujols was selected for a special assignment to the Far East to meet the request of the Grand Conseil Economique of French Indochina. For this assignment, he was commissioned to travel through the Indochinese states to record on canvas and paper the land, the peoples and their ways of life before time and western influences altered them forever. Despujols, a fifty-year-old professor at the American Academy of Fine Arts at Fontainebleau, held the Premier Grand Prix de Rome and the Medaille d’Or de Salon des Artistes Francais. He was also the recent winner of the Grand Conseil Economique’s Indochina Prize for Painting, and it was felt, was ideally suited for this demanding mission both by training and temperament.
For 20 months, Despujols traveled through Indochina, generally avoiding the cosmopolitan areas. Instead, Despujols penetrated the most remote sections of the land and recorded what he saw with intelligence and appreciation. Upon completion of the assignment in 1938, Despujols mounted an exhibition of his works in Hanoi and Saigon. These works would later form the Meadows Museum of Art’s original permanent collection.
Despujols returned to France where a Parisian showing of his works was cancelled due to the outbreak of World War II. The artist joined his American wife in Shreveport, where he brought his paintings of Indochina in 1948. With the exception of a few public and private showings, the paintings remained in a Shreveport bank vault until bought by Algur H. Meadows for Centenary College of Louisiana.
“The organization of the exhibition took six years and has come to fruition through a group effort,” said Diane Dufilho, Director of Meadows Museum of Art. “Dr. Michael Howard, a professor of anthropology at Simon Fraser University in Canada and a field expert dedicated to the collection and preservation of Indochinese culture with a focus on textiles, visited Shreveport to select artworks for the exhibition. He was accompanied by Dale Gluckman, former curator of textiles at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.” Based on the importance of the textiles and costumes depicted, Dr. Howard and Ms. Gluckman worked together to select Despujols’ works to be included in the exhibition.
The staff of the Meadows Museum of Art documented and accessioned the textiles as they were shipped to Shreveport by Dr. Howard and began the design of the exhibition. Special archival mannequins were purchased to display the costumes and textiles. Photographs taken by Despujols while on his journey were loaned to the museum by Dr. Dana Kress, professor of French at Centenary.
The Meadows Museum of Art is located on the campus of Centenary College of Louisiana at 2911 Centenary Boulevard in Shreveport, La. The Museum is open to the general public from noon-4 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; from noon-5 p.m. on Thursday; and from 1-4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The Museum is closed on Mondays. The Museum is free of charge to the general public. For further information or to receive an Exhibition and Program Guide, call the Museum Business Office at 318-869-5040.
About Meadows Museum of Art
The Meadows Museum of Art was established at Centenary College of Louisiana in 1975 on the occasion of the College's 150th anniversary for the purpose of housing the Jean Despujols Collection of Paintings and Drawings of Indochina. The museum was made possible by a gift from Algur H. Meadows, a Centenary alumnus, who had purchased the collection for his alma mater in 1969. The museum's collection and exhibits are not restricted to the Indochina works, but a large portion of that collection is normally on display at all times...."
About Centenary College of Louisiana
Centenary College is a private, four-year arts and sciences college affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Founded in 1825, it is the oldest chartered liberal arts college west of the Mississippi River and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Centenary is one of 16 colleges and universities constituting the Associated Colleges of the South and is regularly rated as one of the top colleges in the South. In 2008 Centenary College celebrates 100 years in Shreveport and Bossier City.