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The New Mexican's Weekly Magazine of Arts, Entertainment & Culture Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Faces in the crowd: Painter Paul-Henri Bourguignon

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Posted: Friday, February 14, 2014 5:00 am | Updated: 5:30 pm, Thu Feb 20, 2014.

Belgian artist and critic Paul-Henri Bourguignon (1906-1988) arrived in Haiti in 1947 under the auspices of the Belgian newspaper Le Phare, with the intention of staying for a only a brief time. More than a year later, Bourguignon was still there, enraptured by the people, culture, and natural beauty of the Caribbean nation. The war in Europe had ended, and with it the German occupation of Belgium that had prevented Bourguignon from indulging a passion for travel to exotic lands.

In Haiti, he was among a group of European and American artists and writers, including filmmaker and writer Maya Deren, Surrealist poet André Breton, and author Truman Capote, then on assignment for Harper’s Bazaar. According to his wife, anthropologist Erika Bourguignon, who met her husband in Haiti when she was engaged in ethnographic fieldwork there, the late 1940s was a peaceful time in the island nation. The arts were flourishing, thanks in part to efforts of American painter DeWitt Peters, who had founded the Centre D’Art in Port-au-Prince in 1944. Bourguignon was there to cover the art scene for Le Phare.

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