Henri Douanier Rousseau
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Henri Rousseau (called “Douanier Rousseau”) was born at Laval on May 21th 1844.
He was working at Paris customs when Le Louvre allowed him to reproduce some of paintings, which enable him to be independent in the paint learning.
In 1885, he prefers quit to devote himself to his artist life. In a first place, his paintings combine unreal colors with symbolic figures like in Cavalcade of desolation (1894).
Then, Rousseau will take great care to depict urban landscape which will contribute to the birth of “naïve” art: Father Juniet’s cart (1908) and The Volleyball players (1908).
Yet, the most numerous theme in Rousseau‘s work is “jungle”. Indeed, several of his paintings depict exotic and colored scenes like The snake charmer (1907), Virgin forest and the sun set (1907) where design plants bring great freshness to the composition.
Those “jungle” paintings were criticized for their lack of realism and for their naivete. But that does not stop the admiration of avant-garde artists (such as Gauguin or Picasso) and symbolists, which found in him the essence of color and a return to origins.
On the other hand, the notion of perspective that is absent in Rousseau is felt in the representation of portraits where characters are frozen and are almost at the same level than the landscape setting (juxtaposed).