Henri Rousseau – is an absolutely incredible painter. This was he, who became the most independent of all the Independent (des Indépendants) ones, made Paris laugh, had created a new genre in painting, impressed famous painters, became the forerunner of postmodernism, pointilism and conceptualism, and, being accused in "money laundering" offered to draw a portrait of a judge’s wife ...
There were two stages of Henri Rousseau’ life: the 1st when he was an unknown customs official in Paris and the 2nd when being 41 years old he decided to devote himself to painting. His will of power and enormous belief in his talent helped him to become one of the most prominent artists of his era.
Keeping up with impressionism, he creates a naive art, which will soon become a separate school. The original style of a customs official, whose artworks have attracted Pablo Picasso, is full of phantasmagoria elements.
After his retirement from the customs department Rousseau lives by modest income from his paintings sale only. Thus, he did not know neither wealth, nor glory in his life. However, the process of the 20th century art development proved that, like all geniuses, the great primitivist Henri Russo (Mytnyk) was far ahead of his era.
So, here are 6 the most striking facts of the artist’s life:
1. Ignoramus in the Salon des Indépendants (Paris, 1885): no perspective at all!
The jury of the official Salon would have never accepted his work, but the Independent with joy "took away" the works of a strange self-taught artist. Rousseau was not "concerned" by artistic technique and laws of the prospect, but transmitted it with shades, intuitively in view of the change of color depending on the distance to the objects.
At the exhibitions near a far distant corner of Rousseau paintings, the audience gathered and laughed loudly at the simple-minded ignorant artist, playing a game of "Who will open the depth" of Rousseau. Fantasy and fantasies ... at the customs! A modest customs official (hence the nickname Mytnyk) was distributing the legend that while his military service he visited Mexico - after all, it was necessary to somehow explain where his images came from: the whole world of exuberant thickets, huge and being much higher than human height fabulous flowers and wild biblical animals’ clashes.
2. Picasso & Co: Recognition.
"Direct-mindedness, passion, genius" were the words of one of the critics of Rousseau. Paul Signac, Odillon Redon, Camille Pissarro, Paul Gauguin - all of them highly valued the art of Rousseau. Artists and poets granted him with their friendship, joked over his credulity and loved him for spiritual purity and talent. For example, Pablo Picasso did not part with the Portrait of a woman, "Jadwiga", bought for 5 francs before being acquainted with the author.
3. Poetry and color elements: where is Rousseau originality.
- was coming up with interesting and long titles to his artworks: having abandoned the laws of painting, Rousseau had stepped from the end of the 19th century immediately to the end of the 20th century. Similar to how Conceptualists do now, he accompanied his artworks with long signatures, sometimes - in verses!
"A hungry lion throws himself on antelope and devours it; Panther is looking forward to when she'll get a sweet little bit. Vultures tore off a piece of the flesh of a poor animal, which sheds tears! The sun goes down".
- shades: the artist boasted to the famous Italian critic Ardzhendo Soffici, that he used 22 shades of green in the picture "Attack of Jaguar on a Horse". Shades of blue and "dark tones" are in favor (the subject of the capture of Paul Gauguin).
- materials: although "Portrait of Yadwiga" was offered by the seller to Picasso because of a huge canvas, many artworks of Rousseau are painted on a low-grade and cheap basis, in contrast to a very high-quality colorful layer.
4. Music was the first.
They told, Henri was successful only in mathematics and singing at the school. Being a genius self-taught artist, he composed "Waltz Clemenceau" (in memory of his deceased wife), two theatrical plays "Visiting the exhibition" and "Vengeance of the Russian orphan". He earned a living by private lessons of solfeggio, recitation and drawing. He played the violin for his friends.
5. Only not behind the bars!
One of his students had used his teacher’s credibility and dragged him into illegal transfer of cash. The artist stand court and got … suspended sentence: on seeing the evidence of the artist's entire naivety, i.e. his paintings, the audience exploded with laughter. In acknowledgment of his sentence mitigation, a happy Rousseau offered a judge to draw his wife’s portrait directly at the courtroom. Generally, he often painted portraits and paintings, which presented afterwards to his friends.
6. Adventures with prices.
About 100 paintings by Henri Rousseau are known now. They are scattered around the world in museums and private collections. It is believed that at the end of his life, Rousseau finally achieved commercial success. Although, once the Mayor of Laval, the artist's hometown, refused to buy his picture for 2,000 francs, today, his small size artworks cost 300,000-500,000 EUR.
Thus, at the times of Khrushchev, artworks of Henri Rousseau were almost secretly sold to the collection of an American museum, along with canvases of impressionists from the vaults of the State Museum named by Pushkin. However, Khrushchev timely recalled the bad reputation of Stalin's sales of museum values and changed his mind.
One of the critics said about Henry Rousseau the following: "The strength of this artist's will was enormous. He could even color the sounds…"
Lena Votkalenko (artist Jose art gallery)
[link=<a href="https://joseartgallery.com/artists/Lena_Votkalenko/" target="blank"><img src="https://joseartgallery.com/img/share-jag.png" width="80" height="80"></a>]https://joseartgallery.com/personal/profile/[/link]