Prefete Duffaut was a major figure in the world of Haitian painting, renowned for his unique style and imaginative cityscapes. Born on January 1st, 1923 in Jacmel, Duffaut was an unhappy child who found solace in drawing from a young age. Despite working with his father in boat building, his talent for art drew him to the Centre D’Art in 1948, where he abandoned his previous profession to pursue his passion.
Duffaut’s work was often described as “primitive” or “naive,” but it was his intricate mountainous landscapes with winding roads that truly set him apart. His talent was recognized on a global scale, and his mural at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Port-au-Prince stands as a testament to his immense skill. He was also a favorite of Jackie Kennedy Onassis, who collected several of his paintings.
Duffaut’s work can be found in numerous major museums around the world, including The Museum Of Modern Art in New York and The Museum of Modern Art in Brooklyn. He was a “must-have” for serious Haitian art collectors, and his contribution to the art world is immeasurable.
Throughout his career spanning over 70 years, Duffaut painted an immense body of work that was exhibited in galleries and museums across the globe, including the Musée du College Saint-Pierre in Port-au-Prince, the Grand Palais in Paris, the Davenport Museum, the Waterloo Museum, and the MoMa of New York.
Duffaut’s passion for painting was inspired by a vision of the Virgin Mary, who appeared to him on a mountaintop and commanded him to paint his imaginary city. He moved with his family to the Carrefour-Feuilles neighborhood in Port-au-Prince in the 1960s, where he continued to paint his beloved cityscapes as well as mystical pieces.
Préfète Duffaut passed away on October 6, 2012, at the age of 89. His work, characterized by its intricate detail and devotion to Vodou spirits, continues to be exhibited and collected by many prominent collectors and museums worldwide, including the Musee d’Art Nader and the Musee d’Art Haitien in Haiti, the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa, the Waterloo Museum of Art in Waterloo, Iowa, the New Orleans Museum of Art in New Orleans, Louisiana, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Milwaukee Art Museum in Milwaukee.
As a master of popular painting in the 1940s, Duffaut’s fantastical depictions of urban life were groundbreaking and influential. He expanded the scope of Latin American art and continues to inspire artists worldwide.
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