Request a free site audit

Interested in offering ad free site memberships?

Life news: I got a dog

Categories

On Henri Rousseau, age, and naivety

A fun account I followed recently on Twitter: @artrousseau. The bot was developed by Andrei Taraschuk, who also manages @The_Barnes_Bot.

A 2009 visit to the Barnes Museum in Lower Merion introduced me to Rousseau, whose style I instantly adored and whose story I came to respect.

Reminiscent of our favorite crazy-haired theoretical physicist, Rousseau’s early career found him in a bureaucratic atmosphere, serving as a customs officer. It wasn’t until his 40’s that Rousseau began painting, and though he received some guidance from established artists, his work displays a clear “naivety” or “primitive” style (these words are now the canonical descriptions of Rousseau’s aesthetic). Drawing his inspiration from dreamscapes, Rousseau illustrated jungle scenes depicting places far removed from his daily reality.

This style, borne dwelling on his own ipseity, helped herald the beginning of the modern art era. The BBC published an article a couple years ago with some choice quotes from Rousseau’s contemporaries:

“Monsieur Rousseau paints with his feet, with a blindfold over his eyes”

“Never seen anything more grotesque”

“Backs jostle in front of his entries, and the place rocks with laughter”

Of course, we know what Ghandi said about laughter.

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win

As an art critic explained to the BBC, Rousseau’s naivety was the very source of his genius and his influence. Through his fresh eyes a new world emerged.

Rousseau didn’t care about rules. He made his own. And [as a result] he had a definite influence on Matisse as well as Picasso – in a direct pictorial way.

To me, this is purity; the fundamental act of individual creation and meaning-making. And a career that only spanned a couple decades! That didn’t begin until his 40’s!

In an age when youth is celebrated, when fresh faces and startup hoodies signify Ragged Dick for a new generation, Rousseau’s career is a testament to stoicism and solipsism, a tribute to individuality. It makes me so happy to stand in front of his major compositions at the Barnes.

But I wanted to close this post by sharing a few images that are remarkable to me for another reason. Rousseau’s career takes us to the precipice of the modern & global world. Consider the following pictures.

The Fishermen and the Biplane
View of Malakoff Hauts de Seine
The Football Players
The Eiffel Tower

What do I see in these images? A man bearing honest witness to the transition from techne to technology. To me… this is the good stuff.

Did you enjoy this post?

Signup to receive a weekly email containing my new posts, curated links, and book reviews.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Comments

Follow me on Twitter
Thoughts

Lenfest Institute and Digital First Media?

What if Alden let another organization manage its newspaper assets as a blind trust? It would lose a great deal of flexibility in using DFM assets to leverage other companies it owns, but it would be able to wash its hands of the growing public relations crisis. Furthermore, it would give space for the strategic direction of DFM to be explored and pursued without the added baggage of hedge fund cross-percolation.

Notes on dynamic meters

Notes on newsletters

Notes on the membership model for news

Penn State Campuses Lose University Recognition After Risk Analysis Review

Essays

Capturing Shawmont Station before its $1,000,000 preservation begins – the oldest extant passenger rail station in America

Originally a 18′ by 36′ stone house (Wissahickon Schist), the structure wouldn’t have stood out from the other country homes in this part of Philadelphia, at the tip of the Manayunk Reach, situated at the end of today’s Manayunk Canal Towpath.

Testing WordPress Gutenberg on a high volume news site

Water, sand, and societal change

Apple releases MapKit JS just as Google Maps pricing about to change

Starting July 16, the cost of using Google Maps at scale will increase substantially, so perhaps it’s no coincidence that Apple quietly introduced MapKit JS amidst last week’s Worldwide Developers Conference. It’s very possible that I’m missing a key assumption or two in this modeling, but if the pricing differences are even close to the scenario presented above, we are witnessing a tectonic shift in maps as service.

EverQuote and patent medicine

In a thread begun October 2016, Washington Post technology director Aram Zucker-Scharff tweeted about the shady advertising practices of EverQuote, a Boston-based startup. Since then these ads have become prolific on the web (and nearly as prolific are Aram’s tweets documenting the malfeasance).

Lenfest Institute and Digital First Media?

What if Alden let another organization manage its newspaper assets as a blind trust? It would lose a great deal of flexibility in using DFM assets to leverage other companies it owns, but it would be able to wash its hands of the growing public relations crisis. Furthermore, it would give space for the strategic direction of DFM to be explored and pursued without the added baggage of hedge fund cross-percolation.

Receive a weekly email with newly posted content

  • About one email per week
  • Includes original posts, curated links, and book reviews

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Send this to a friend