In 1946, Paul Dufour was honorably discharged from the United States Navy. He was a naval artificer who made elaborate models of islands as plans of attack in the South Pacific.
Paul received a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from the University of New Hampshire in 1950. He later earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting from Yale University in 1952, under his major professor Josef Albers. This Bauhaus progenitor helped Paul become proficient in the interaction of color and its application in various media.
Paul also worked with glass, wood, metals, ceramics, tapestry, and painting in the Bauhaus workshop style for industrial designers. This color theory background later became a classic design course at LSU.
Paul also studied under Willem de Kooning, Stuart Davis, and Abraham Ratner while at Yale. He was drawn to the Cubist style and mixed media collage that would persist throughout his career.
Paul often said, “I am an anxious man and use whatever medium suits my passion.”
Upon graduating from Yale, Paul was hired to manage and run the program for the Courier Gallery of Art in Manchester, New Hampshire. His first college teaching position was as an assistant professor at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota.
In 1959 he joined the faculty at Louisiana State University to teach painting. He became a full professor in 1968 and retired as professor emeritus in 1985.
In 1967, Paul organized the first stained glass program, offering fine art degrees from a major university in the United States. During his tenure at Louisiana State University, he received seven awards from the graduate council, among which three were sabbaticals. On one sabbatical, he collaborated and studied with sumi-e painters in Japan, including Toshi Yoshida. On another six-month sabbatical in 1971, Paul researched medieval glass with his son Paulo in Europe and England.
Paul began to focus on glass in his artwork and commercial pursuits as a result of a commission that he was awarded for the Bishop’s Chapel at the Catholic Family Life Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
When he received this commission in 1967, Paul taught himself, a few students, and his sons Paulo and Jay to make stained glass in a small upstairs studio on Chimes Street in Baton Rouge.
At this time, he was also asked to design the furnishings for the chapel, including a bronze and mosaic tabernacle. He had previously made sculptures of a religious nature for St. Aloyisous including a monstrance and tabernacle. As a result of this early work, Paul was awarded many other commissions in glass, mosaics, tapestries, and bronze that provided an outlet for his deeply held spiritual beliefs for the remainder of his life.
One of the largest commissioned works of Paul’s career was The Mary Window, created in 1974. This masterpiece was a monumental window of 2,000 square feet for Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Professor Dufour gained an international reputation as an outstanding artist, speaker, and intellectual. His work is included in many private and public collections throughout the world. He was most famous for his work in stained glass and as an educator of stained glass artistry.
Among his many honors was the inclusion of his glass work in Glaskunst, Kassel, Germany, Vicointer, Valencia, and Spain. Dufour’s work is contained in well over 1,000 private and public collections in the United States and abroad.
Paul A. Dufour passed away on September 6, 2008, at the age of 86. He will always be fondly remembered as a loving father by his wife of 54 years, Rita, his four children, and cherished as a mentor to hundreds, if not thousands of devoted students.
Paul Dufour’s works enrich the lives of those who knew him and those who worship in the sacred spaces his works reside in -- from hospitals to churches, and private residences.