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Tue Jun 17, 2014, 12:24 AM

The Dream



Henri Rousseau, French (1844-1910)

At the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

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Reply The Dream (Original post)
NNadir Jun 2014 OP
CaliforniaPeggy Jun 2014 #1
NNadir Jun 2014 #2
CaliforniaPeggy Jun 2014 #3

Response to NNadir (Original post)

Tue Jun 17, 2014, 12:33 AM

1. My dear NNadir!

Ah, even I recognize this famous painting! Rousseau if I'm not mistaken...

SO beautiful.

I'm hoping you'll interpret the dream for me.

And thanks for posting it.

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Response to CaliforniaPeggy (Reply #1)

Wed Jun 18, 2014, 07:15 PM

2. Rousseau was one of those unfortunate artists whose work went largely unappreciated...

...in his lifetime.

All of his paintings, many of which involve jungle scenes, are in fact dreams, since he never left France, never traveled to a jungle, and derived most of his knowledge of them from visiting indoor terrariums and zoos.

In the art world he was often ridiculed and dismissed as a minor syndic, because he survived on a government job and not on the sale of his art works.

My son and I visited this painting at MOMA last weekend, and we had a wonderful time making jokes about the painting, jokes that I'm afraid will not transfer to paper very well. The jokes were not intended to ridicule the painting - it is a magnificent work of art - but to just engage in some private absurdist theater while sitting on the bench in front of it. For me, Rousseau's paintings always bring a feeling of happiness and release.

To the left was Van Gogh's Starry Night which is undoubtedly the most famous painting in MOMA now that Guernica has (rightfully) been returned to Spain. Trying to view Starry Night is rather like trying to view the Mona Lisa in the Louvre: There is always a crowd around the painting, and occasionally there are people elbowing each other to get a closer view.

I think it is telling that curators have chosen to place two famous Rousseaus (the other is Sleeping Gypsy) close to two of Van Gogh's works, the other Van Gogh being The Olive Trees. The two artists never enjoyed the prominence in life that that they did in death.

Rousseau's work - all of which have this wonderful ethereal dreamlike feel - is also prominently displayed at the Musee D'Orsay in Paris, and one is always aware of the imagination that must have been his lot.

As is the case with Guernica, The Dream is far more impressive than can be grasped by viewing a reproduction in a book or internet posting. Both are very large paintings - although Guernica is much more massive - as it should be, given the enormity of what it represented, the violence and the tragedy. By contrast, the size of Rousseau's gentle paintings convey the large idea that life is beautiful and well worth living.

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Response to NNadir (Reply #2)

Wed Jun 18, 2014, 07:27 PM

3. Ah, thank you!

I had not known the history.

And I love the interpretation of this work.

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