Saturday, March 21, 2009


My Hero

Rousseau in His Time
"A problem persists with regard to the Douanier Rousseau. Admired by artists at the turn of the century (Pablo Picasso, Robert Delaunay, Wassily Kandinsky, Constantin Brancusi, and others), and defended by the same writers (led by Guillaume Apollinaire and Blaise Cendrar
he is still difficult to fit into what we call modern art. Thus in 1918, after having cited the precursors of Cubism and modern painting, Amedee Ozenfant and C. E. Jeanneret (who was not yet calling himself Le Corbusier) stated: "No need to include among [them] the Douanier Rousseau, one of the most charming painters of the period, for his art was purely traditional."' A similar judgment was handed down by Ribemont Dessaignes, who was active in the Dada movement:
"The emergence of Rousseau is an isolated fact separate from the day to day development of art; Rousseau's painting is totally foreign to every contemporary school, whether oldfashioned or avant garde."
And even Philippe Soupault, who was passionately devoted to Rousseau, refused to place his work in historical perspective. Tristan Tzara, however, equally devoted to the Douanier, was able to analyze his work more acutely and to understand the role it played in twentieth century art.
"Such an equivocal situation obviously arises out of the singularity of Rousseau's work and the lack of precedents for it. Also responsible, perhaps, is Rousseau's ambiguous personality, to which we shall return. There persists even today an error in historical perspective regarding his precise chronological position: we tend to forget that Rousseau was not the contemporary of his admirers.

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