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Artists: Rigaud Benoit

Rigaud Benoit is one of the seminal names in Haitian Art. He was born in 1911 in Port-au-Prince and worked as a shoemaker, musician and taxi driver as a young man. He arrived at the recently-opened Centre d'Art in 1944 with a decorated piece of pottery that he said had been painted by a friend. DeWitt Peters bought the piece and encouraged Benoit to bring his friend to the center. He came several more times before admitting that it was he who had painted the pottery.

Rigaud's "Nativity" in the apse of Trinity Cathedral is one of the major murals there. For most of his career he painted scenes of Haitian life, Vodou and some Still-Lifes. Always he painted with discipline and wonderful detail. Ute Stebich in her biography of him in the catalog for her landmark show at the Brooklyn Museum in 1978 describes his work as having the "flavor of enlarged miniatures." Ms. Stebich says of his later work: "It is as if he has become freer with age, more daring and open, permitting us to have a glimpse into the labyrinth of his soul and the depth of his imagination." His output was relatively small considering the demand for his work but he preferred to spend time on a painting.

He was married to the daughter of Hector Hyppolite and had two children with her, plus he adopted at least two other children, Yves Lafontant and Jacques Dorce, both of whom became accomplished artists in their own right. His works have been exhibited throughout the world and are found in the permanent collections of various museums and numerous other private and public collections.

The "Erzulie" lithograph seen here is colored in the plate. The "Reine du Carnaval" and "Reine des Etoiles" are individually colored by the artist by hand.

Rigaud Benoit died in 1986.

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