Paul Ninas (1903-1964) was one of the pioneering modernists working in the South during the mid-20th century. His work was pivotal in the development of modern art in the South, more particularly in New Orleans. Ninas studied engineering at the University of Nebraska before traveling around the Middle East and North Africa, which inspired him to become a painter. He studied painting in Vienna from 1922–1925. He then moved to Paris where he studied at the Académie des Beaux-Arts and was influenced by fauvism and cubism. Ninas returned to the US in 1932 following his fathers' death, settling in New Orleans where he remained until his own death in 1964. Ninas was active in the city's art community and his European style was well received. He was described as the "dean of modern art" in New Orleans.
His work is often compared to Gaugin and included in dialogue with Pablo Picasso, translating his synthetic Cubist style into distinctly Southern subjects. Many of Ninas' artworks are depictions of New Orleans through a Cubist lens, depicting cemeteries, Mardi Gras parades, and harbor scenes with angular, colorful flair.