Academic journal article Language Arts

The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau

Academic journal article Language Arts

The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau

Article excerpt

The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau Written by Michelle Markel Illustrated by Amanda Hall Eerdmans, 2012, unpaged, ISBN 978-0- 8028-5364-6

The exotic paintings and indomitable spirit of Henri Rousseau are mirrored beautifully in this upbeat story about the joy of artistic innovation and the inexhaustibility of one man's creative force. At the age of 40, the career French toll collector began painting. Before he was 50, he retired to paint full time. His work included lush landscapes rendered in rich tones, with jungle scenes and animals he had never seen directly, and atypical portraits with cityscapes and natural backdrops. Having no money to travel, Rousseau studied photographs, illustration, paintings, anatomy, and nature in many forms and attended the 1889 World's Fair in Paris. Despite repeated harsh reviews by contemporary art critics, Rousseau, famous for innovating in naïve style, "knows his shapes are simpler and flatter than everyone else's, but he thinks that makes them lovely."

This picturebook biography offers a child- friendly introduction to a man with a unique talent and soaring imagination who was truly "one of the most gifted self-taught artists in history. …

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