Remembering Shirley Rabé Masinter

Shirley Rabe Masinter, Caesar, 1994, oil on canvas. Gift of the Roger Houston Ogden Collection. 2003.1.341

Ogden Museum of Southern Art is deeply sadden by the passing of New Orleans based artist, Shirley Rabé Masinter.

Masinter’s painting, Caesar, was part of the founding donation of Ogden Museum and documents the urban blight of New Orleans’ N. Rampart Street in the early 90s. Using a family member as model, the painting includes a depiction of a campaign poster for Marc Morial, who served as Mayor of New Orleans from 1994 to 2002, and was the city’s youngest Mayor. Just left of the campaign poster, is a depiction of a photo of Nancy and Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States who served from 1981 to 1989.

Bradley Sumrall, Curator of the Collection, shares “Shirley Rabé Masinter has been one of the most impactful voices in Contemporary Realism in the South for decades. Her body of work not only shows her mastery of her chosen mediums, but also represents one of the great visual documentations of the city of New Orleans.”

Ogden Museum will miss Masinter dearly, but we know that her legacy will live on through her work.

You can donate in memory of Shirley Rabe Maisnter by clicking here, emailing or by calling 504.539.9616.

About Shirley Rabé Masinter

Shirley Rabé Masinter was a hyperrealist painter that maintained an art practice for over 70 years.  Depicting the gritty patina of the inner-city neighborhoods and cemeteries of New Orleans, her carefully constructed compositions find beauty in urban decay. Masinter described her work as being focused “on a city in transition with many controversial and dynamic social forces at play.”

Born in the St. Roch neighborhood of New Orleans on December 11, 1932, Masinter took her first art classes while attending John McDonogh High School and the Rabouin School of Commercial Art & Advertising. In 1952, she began taking classes with Regionalist painter John McCrady at his school on Bourbon Street. In her early adult life, Masinter worked as a commercial artist for D.H. Holmes from 1953 to 1978. She returned to school in 1966, earning a Bachelor of Art degree from Newcomb College in 1973 and a Master of Art degree from Tulane University in Art History in 1989. Beginning in the late-1980s, she worked full-time as an artist, exhibiting in museums and galleries across the Gulf South. Her works are held in the permanent collections of museums including: Louisiana State Museum; New Orleans Museum of Art; Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson; Huntsville Museum of Art in Alabama; Morris Museum of Art in Augusta, Georgia; Historical Museum of Wines and Spirits in Stockholm, Sweden; and Ogden Museum of Southern Art

Shirley Rabé Masinter died on November 15, 2023. She was 90 years old. Her body of work in oil, watercolor and drawing represents one of the great visual documents of her lifelong home, the City of New Orleans.