Born into a family of tradespeople in a small city in France, Henri Rousseau became a customs and excise officer in the customs house in Paris in 1871, a job that earned him the nickname 'the customs officer'. Rousseau was an enthusiastic self-taught artist. Nourished by themes in the popular imagination, Rousseau's painting expresses a vision of reality, populated by iconic figures outlined with hieratic force against flat blocks of saturated colour and fantastic spaces - a vision long branded as naive, ingenuous and uncultivated. This book demonstrates how fully Rousseau il Douanier's masterpieces are part of this archaic trend, and of the world of art in general, from his dream-like exotic landscapes to his still-lifes. They are shown alongside works signed by the likes of Picasso, Gaugain, Frida Kahlo, and Carlo Carra.
Gabriella Belli is a lecturer and art historian, commissioner of the Biennale di Venezia in 1995, director of MART - Museo d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, where she has curated more than 60 exhibitions of modern and contemporary art. Since 2011 she has been the Director of the Civic Museums of Venice Foundation. Guy Cogeval is an art historian and president of the Musee d'Orsay and the Musee de l'Orangerie in Paris.
Contents: Reasons for an exhibition. Henri Rousseau and archaism; Is there an archaic trend in the history of art before Rousseau?; The eclectic sources of the customs officer's painting: the world of Henri Rousseau; Henri Rousseau and the collection of the art dealer Paul Guillaume; Henri Rousseau and his influence on the Parisian avant-garde circle; Henri Rousseau and Italian art; Henri Rousseau and the Blue Rider; Illustrated chronology of the life and work of Henri Rousseau, edited by Yann Le Pichon and Anthology of Henri Rousseau's writings, edited by Annabelle Mathias.