For Pre-Fall 2016, Tadashi Shoji turned to artist Henri Rousseau and his masterpiece “The Dream.” Inspired, the designer captured elements of the wild seductive world and translated them into his own creations. Lush jungles, wild beasts and one lone sensual figure lives in an erotic landscape that is rich in hyper-real colors. It is pure beauty.
“Beauty is the promise of happiness,” Rousseau once said. We couldn’t agree more. Discover the inspiration behind Pre-Fall 2016 with ten facts on the artist that some say invented magic realism.
Rousseau was born in 1884 and grew up in a small town in Laval, France to a plumber family. He studied law but excelled in drawing and was completely self-taught.
The artist didn’t begin seriously painting until in his forties. He worked office jobs to support himself, including a job as a tax collector that earned him the nickname “Le Douanier.”
He married his first wife Clemence Boitard in 1868 and had nine children but of the nine only one child survived. Tuberculosis was rampant during that period and would eventually claim his wife, too, in 1888.
From 1886, Rousseau’s exhibited in the Salon des Indépendants, known to showcase artists like Henri Matisse, Paul Cézanne, and Paul Gauguin. With his seemingly naïve style, Rousseau’s work was never taken seriously by critics.
At age 49, he retired from his job to fully work on his art. Musically talented as well, he played violin on the streets to support himself. Rousseau even composed a waltz for his first wife.
The artist never traveled outside of France and captured his jungle depictions from his frequent trips to the Jardin de Plantes and its zoological galleries of taxidermy animals.
Artist Pablo Picasso found Rousseau’s painting “Portrait of a Woman” in a second-hand store and became a fan.
Two years before Rousseau’s death, Picasso hosted a lavish banquet in honor of the artist that was attended by the avant-garde elite, including Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas.
Rousseau created more than 25 jungle paintings in his career but “The Dream” would be his most ambitious work. A large oil-on-canvas painting, the artist apparently used at least twenty-two shades of green. “The Dream” exhibited just a few months before his death.
Rousseau died in 1910 from an infected leg wound, with little acclaim to his work. New York art collector Sidney Janis at one point owned “The Dream.” He went on to sell it to Nelson A. Rockefeller for more than $100,000. In 1954, Rockefeller gifted the painting to the Museum of Modern Art in New York where it can still be viewed to this day.