May 10, 2011

Art Inspired: Henri Rousseau, The Dream

This week's art inspiration story moves me to the core on so many levels. Henri Rousseau was a toll collector who finally retired at the age of 49 to paint seriously, and even then, he supplemented his income with odd jobs like playing violin in the street. Although he wanted desperately to be taken seriously, his naive/primitive paintings were ridiculed by art critics until the day he died. His last painting, The Dream, was exhibited a few months before he died. It was only then that he was hailed as a self-taught genius. His work influenced many of my favorite artists: Matisse, Picasso, Sonia Delaunay, Brancusi, and the Fauves.

Henri Rousseau - Il sogno

I first saw his work in Paris as a teenager, but it wasn't until I picked up and moved to NYC in my early twenties that I had my first face-to-face experience with The Dream, and a visceral reaction to this painting that I will always remember. The forest, which Rousseau had never visited, appealed to me as no other landscape ever had, and the scale was fantastic. But it was the dream that captured me, not the dreamer; those haunting eyes that greeted me every day when I slipped into MOMA on my lunch break. I could never shake off the need to stare back at those beautiful, mysterious yellow and black eyes of that musical ape.



Jersey dress $595 -; True Religion wedge sandal $175 -; Proenza Schouler leather shoulder bag $1,510 -; Alexandra Beth Designs leather bracelet $115 -; Gucci scarve $595 -; Sunglass $495 -; MAC 'Flighty' Zoom Lash Color $14 - velvet shadow - mermaid $18; Chanel - No.19 Eau De Parfum Spray 100ml/3.3oz $175 -


the nyanzi report said...

i died when i saw that painting! such beauty.

Cafe Fashionista said...

That Matthew Williamson dress is just heavenly - love love! :)

Lee Oliveira said...

Great inspiration.
Matthew's jersey dress is fabulous. Doesn't even look jersey to be honest.
Lee x

classiq said...

Mary Jo, I'm happy to find Brancusi among your favourite artists. As Rousseau was a source of inspiration for him, so was Brancusi for other artists, designers and so many people, regardless their profession. It would be such an experience to see The Dream face-to-face, as you put it. :) And I have to tell you that I'm now craving that gorgeous Gucci scarf and the green Proenza Schouler bag. Hope you have a beautiful day! xo Ada

Couture Carrie said...

Gorgeous inspiration and look!
Love those wedge sandals!


design elements said...

we like so many similar things, Mary Jo! I heard of Henri Rousseau some months ago (better late than never :-) I read in a Bulgarian newspaper a short article about him. the journalist mention HR said he had "no teacher other than nature" and before to turn to the next page to see his work I was sure I will like his works. I am constantly inspired by nature. this MW dress is a dream...shall i order it in September? :-) many hugs to you

Alexis of NorthOnHarper said...

I love the completed look. Especially the leather bracelet and how you paired it (and the shoes & bag) with more ethereal type items.

Rousseau's story is such the quintessential artist tale. And yet another reason why we should never give up on a dream!!!

Kirby said...

Oh the picture is amazing...and I LOVE that dress!

It-Blogirls said...

Such a lovely selection of outfit!

About Last Weekend said...

Love this painter. I have always resisted animal prints but absolutely love this look - inspired! The MW dress is such a dreamy take on wildlife and with the scarf it looks so interesting. Love the shoes too... said...

you KILLED it with this!! completely unearthed the art history undergraduate in me.
the water buffalo always got me in this one. that shy, hidden face....with that. one. knowing. eye.
ugh...guts me everytime!!!
love this! love you for doing these!!!

Claire said...

goodness, i love how you do this! such great inspiration from the art into the clothes! i love that dress, and that satchel is fabulous. i really want it! and i want those wedges too!

Dallas Shaw said...

love the bracelet

It-Blogirls said...

Thank you so much for your amazing comment
Anna IS amazing, I agree!
Again, amazing outfit selection!

Rosa Marrero said...

Laura said...

I absolutely love your art inspired posts. They are fabulous. Great pick of the colours again and the Chanel scent is a perfect match for the painting. Have a good week! It's still lovely temperatures here :-)

MM said...

This is such a great post! Your ideas are brilliant, Mary Jo! It is a pleasure to read you!
The dress and the perfume are my favorites!


Krystal said...

that is SUCH an interesting painting..and it is so cool that you got to see it in real life.

Heather Fonseca said...

I love your fashion interpretation of the painting! I think I would wear the whole outfit. We need a bit more dreaminess in our clothing I think.


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