Henri Rousseau: The Dream (1910)

Oil on canvas – On display at the Museum of Modern Art, New York City

Accompanied by the poem Inscription pour La Rêve (translated from French):

Yadwigha in a beautiful dream
Having fallen gently to sleep
Heard the sounds of a reed instrument
Played by a well-intentioned [snake] charmer.
As the moon reflected
On the rivers [or flowers], the verdant trees,
The wild snakes lend an ear
To the joyous tunes of the instrument.

French post-impressionist painter Henri Rousseau produced works in the naïve art genre.   The Dream perfectly depicts the genre, making use of simple, geometric forms to represent objects in the jungle of Yadwigha’s dream.  Like many naïve artists, Rousseau received little formal training in his craft.  As a result, his art did not conform, but expressed his true, raw perception of reality.  In many ways his art compares to the stories of citizen journalists.   They likewise report their experiences and interpretations in true, raw form.  Doing so places the audience in the most ideal perspective: to view the world as the artist does.

 

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