There are twenty-four hours in the day all making up the exact amount of minutes, sixty-per-hour to be exact. However, it is curious that some of these hours seem to fly by, not allowing us to complete specific tasks. It is during this time that we often say, “time flies”. Yet, on the opposite pole, there exists times when we feel an hour goes by so slowly that we wish it away. These creeping hours are universally agreed upon to be relegated to the occasions when we wake up in the middle of the night and are unable to fall back to sleep.
During these fitful hours nothing seems to agree. Our pillows are too flat or too thick, our sheets are too hot or too cold, and the room is too quiet or too noisy. The clock’s ticking or lit numbers seem too loud or too bright, and seem only remind to us that we should be asleep.
Today’s blog brings to you the esteemed thinker: Henri Rousseau (1844-1910), a self-taught French artist born in Laval, France. His nickname, “Le Douanier” (“the customs officer”) by his acquaintances in the Parisian avant-garde was given to him because of his occupation as a toll collector. During his life as an artist he was often ridiculed as not being good, and unlike his peers who profited by their art, Rousseau did not.
His style, often described as childlike and naïve, did in fact portray his subjects with bold colors and very personalized style. His style was never appreciated by the conservative art officials in Paris, yet he was able to find exhibitions that accepted his work to be shown.
It was contemporary artist friends such as Camille Pissarro who praised his direct approach. After his death in 1910, his work did influence other artists; from his friend Picasso to Max Ernst and the Surrealists.
And so, I bring you a most famous painting by “Le Douanier”, which envisions those set hours we call night….here is an oil on canvas titled “The Sleeping Gypsy” (1897).
Second image: Henri Rousseau 1902 photomechanical print : photogravure