If it's Wednesday, it must be mysteriously lurking figures in dreamy jungle settings . . .

I guess the news of Small Works Folk Art Week has gotten around, because look who stopped in to say "Bonjour"!

Myself, Portrait Landscape (detail) 1890

At first Rousseau was a little irritated at being included as a folk artist (he correctly asserts that he did sometimes play with the big boys),

but I had to very gently remind him that he was, after all, a toll booth operator who never left France despite his many stories and paintings depicting adventures to the contrary.

The Snake Charmer, 1907

Tropical Landscape -- an American Indian Struggling with an Ape (detail), 1910

I also told him that the trait I found most endearing was his reluctance to paint feet (he felt inadequate to draw them properly) -- I share his pain because I can't draw either, remember?

Child with a Puppet, 1903

He was not amused,

Happy Quartet, 1902

so I tried to make him feel better by telling him that visiting his paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago was perhaps my favorite thing about living in that great city.

Child with a Doll, 1904-05

Les Joueurs de Football, 1908

I actually think Rousseau's most endearing trait is that he kept enormous scrapbooks filled with his reviews, most of which weren't really favorable, including many duplicate copies of the same reviews to make the books look more full.

He also threw himself parties celebrating his achievements as an artist, but many of his friends who attended did so tongue-in-cheek, although he didn't realize this. I did not break the news to him in my kitchen -- I just let him enjoy his diet coke.

(I could perhaps have told him that I've probably had a similar experience at some of the shows my friends have been kind enough to attend . . . .)

Then I thanked him for his marvelous eccentricity, his wildly dream-like vegetation and deeply moving colors, his relentless desire for greatness . . .

and lastly for smashing the glass ceiling for folk artists everywhere.

He merely bowed and bid me "adieu", dropping the diet coke can in the recycling on his way out.

Merci, Monsieur Rousseau.


Jessie said...

I'm loving your fun-yet-educational blog posts (isn't it great when the two coincide?)! I've found an artist that I'm totally in awe of and am going to ask Bon to purchase some prints of her works for my Christmas present. Visit my blog and under "Sites I Likes", click on "Roadside Projects". She makes the dreamiest pictures using nothing but layered paper. :)

april said...

whoa, who visited your exhibit in a tongue and cheek fashion? i have a hard time belieiving that one, but i guess if it happened to rousseau it could happen to someone as fantastic as you. i liked hannah's comment about how your online journal is as amazing as everything else you do. so true. i am loving being introduced to all these artists. thanks so much. yes, these large flowers are amazing and fun to know that you and rousseau don't like to draw feet.

april said...

oops, i guess the large flowers were horace pippin. sorry i just read three different posts together at once. grace just woke up and wants to read all this now. i think she'd enjoy meeting all these artists too.

susan m hinckley said...

Hi, Grace! Welcome to the blog -- I get the impression you're interested in art, too. Thanks for sharing some of your art with me last week. It was lovely.

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