Tuesday, 21 June 2016

The Douanier Rousseau

Fig.1 Henri Rousseau, dit Le Douanier Rousseau (1844-1910) La charmeuse de serpents, 1907 Huile sur toile, 167 x 189,5 cm Paris, musée d’Orsay © RMN-Grand Palais (musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

An exhibition examining the painter Henri Rousseau, who flourished from the late 19th century to the early 20th century, is underway at Musée d'Orsay in Paris. The exhibition interprets Rousseau through the theme of “archaism” and also presents the works of the avant-garde Montmartre painters like Picasso, who revered and recognized early on the talent of the elderly painter, as well as the followers of naïve art who carried out his legacy. By displaying these pieces together, one can probe the influence of Rousseau on modern art.

New Expressions
Henri Rousseau was called “the douanier” because he worked at the Paris tax office while he taught himself painting. His lack of formal training gave rise to an unrefined style that was regarded as a new form of expression and greatly influenced the avant-garde painters in Paris.

The New World of the Modern Era
While illustrating in a simple manner, Rousseau’s works incorporated new phenomena of the times. For example, in Portrait of Pierre Loti he painted factory chimneys spewing smoke in the background. In Myself, Portrait-Landscape, he depicted the elated atmosphere of the Paris Expo through ships flying expo flags and a hot air balloon. The exotic atmosphere he portrayed in his masterpieces such as La charmeuse de serpents (Fig. 1) and The Dream is an unprecedented landscape born out of the spread of colonialism. The young painters may have been drawn to these new representations of the new world.

The Douanier Rousseau Through July 17 (Closed Mondays)
Musée d'Orsay
1 Rue de la Légion d'Honneur
75007 Paris, France
+33 1 40 49 48 14
Opening times:
9:30-18:00 (Closed Mondays、Thursdays until 9:45 pm)