Louisiana Art in New Orleans

Art in New Orleans


New Orleans is a city with many diverse cultures, and the interaction among these cultures has produced many kinds of art in New Orleans.  The New Orleans Museum of Art was established in 1911 as the Delgado Museum of Art, endowed by philanthropist and art collector Isaac Delgado.  NOMA’s permanent collection includes works by Money, Degas, Renoir, Rodin, and Matisse, among others.  NOMA also frequently plays host to travelling exhibits and theatrical performances.  Other notable art museums in New Orleans include the Ogden Museum.  Major art-world events in New Orleans include White Linen Night, where art lovers walk up and down Julia Street, admiring the galleries and enjoying cocktails in the hot August weather.  


Popular Images in Louisiana Art


Many Louisiana artists are inspired by life in rural Louisiana.  Depictions of life on the bayou include moody nighttime swamp scenes, characterized by cyprus trees, Spanish moss, dark waters, and bright stars.  Louisiana wildlife has inspired many artists, including the famous John Jay Audubon, who created iconic images of birds native to Louisiana, including cranes, herons, and other water birds.  Alligators are another popular motif in Louisiana art, appearing in both serious and comical situations.  Taxidermied alligator heads are a popular gift shop offering.  Other artists depict Louisiana’s abundant seafood, including crawfish, shrimp, fish, and oysters.  Many artists create art using the oyster shells, and images of crawfish and crawfish boils are popular among tourists and locals alike.  


Iconography of Art in New Orleans


Fans of New Orleans art will be very familiar with the symbols that represent the city.  The most famous symbol of New Orleans is the fleur-de-lis.  The fleur-de-lis is an image of a lily, which has been held as symbolic by many ruling dynasties and cities.  Some of the earliest images of the fleur-de-lis can be found on ancient Gaulish coins, and the image is most closely associated with the royal dynasties of France, although it is also associated with the city of Florence and with some of the doges of Venice.  The logo of the New Orleans Saints is  fleur-de-lis.  After Hurricane Katrina, many adopted the symbol as a representation of their love for New Orleans and as a symbol of the recovery.  Another image that is very popular in art in New Orleans is the old-style water meter cover.  While that sounds silly, the water meter features an attractive star motif, and is a popular design for art, clothing, and jewelry among New Orleans natives.


A Nostalgic Flair in Art in New Orleans


New Orleanians love to celebrate the things that we used to love that “ain’t dere no more.”  The logos and names of beloved companies are popular subjects for local art.  Some examples of this include K&B drugstore - with their signature purple hue, Hubig’s pies - a company that temporarily shut down due to a fire, and Dixie beer - still produced, but in Wisconsin.