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Arts & Culture

The Furry Face of New Orleans: History of George Rodrigue’s Famous Blue Dog

Learn the history of the emblematic blue dog painting by New Orleans artist George Rodrigue, whose art gallery is located in the French Quarter.

With Dirty Linen Night returning to the French Quarter this weekend, I’ve had New Orleans art on the brain, and more specifically a little blue dog – inspiring this week’s Instagram Pick of the Week. If you’ve been aware of pop art culture in the past few decades, then you are familiar with Louisiana contemporary artist George Rodrigue’s Blue Dog series. But for some, you may have seen that familiar blue-haired, yellow-eyed dog painted around New Orleans, and you may not know his story.

That famous Blue Dog that is now in homes and art galleries across the country, as well as on the front of hotels, used in advertising and promotional art, and posing with the likes of celebrities, governors and a former president, was actually born from Rodrigue’s brain way back in 1984. The first Blue Dog painting, Loup Garou, was inspired by Roderigue’s dog Tiffany who had passed away, in combination with the werewolf-like, Cajun mythological creature, the Loup-garou (or Rougarou, depending on the Cajun circle you’re affiliated with).

In 1992, the Blue Dog was made famous when Michel Roux commissioned Rodrigue to paint Absolut Louisiana and Absolut Rodrigue for Absolut Vodka’s national ad campaigns. Soon after, Rodrigue did the same for Xerox, and by then, the Blue Dog’s national fame was cemented. The Blue Dog also became an essential part of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival posters, as well, and it was this part of the Blue Dog history, as Rodrigue continued to paint for them, that the Blue Dog really started to become the face of New Orleans. Since then, the Blue Dog has been painted in all kinds of settings and scenarios, including pop culture references and many New Orleans-themed scenes.

To this day, New Orleanians still take great pride in the artist George Rodrigue and his mysterious Blue Dog paintings, and many dream of the day they can afford an original for their homes. When you’re out in the Quarter for Dirty Linen Night, you’ll definitely want to stop into Rodrigue Studio and see original paintings of the famous Blue Dog himself.

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