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Birthday Boy: Henri Rousseau

MAY 21, 2007
The Sleeping Gypsy 1897 (70 Kb); Oil on canvas, 129.5 x 200.7 cm (51" x 6'7"); The Museum of Modern Art, New York
This famous French Customs Officer and painter was born on this day in 1844.
Is "The Sleeping Gypsy" in Chicago? I need to find out because I feel like I've grown up looking at it. Nope, it's in New York. Well, never mind. That picture is taped up in every grammar school art classroom in the Western world. And I don't care how popular and iconic these images are, I still find them inspiring for a few important reasons:
• Just paint darn it! Don't listen to critics.
• There is life after 40. Like many "Outsider" artists, Rousseau didn't start the work he's most remembered for until he was in middle age.
• Keep the work simple: meeting basic needs is a profoundly moving human endeavor. Children remind of this all the time!
links:
WebMuseum, Paris
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Tate Museum
Artchive.com
Topical: artist birthdays