The Australian artist Sidney Nolan said on my last post “that the main ingredients of the Ned Kelly series were Kelly’s own words, and [Henri] Rousseau, and sunlight.”

I’m sure he meant Rousseau’s child-like style of painting. This style is called Naïve Art which Rousseau basically invented because he wasn’t formally trained. Self-taught artists were frowned upon in Paris when he first started showing his paintings at Salon des Artistes Indépendants in 1886.

Actually, he was ridiculed for quite a few years. He was known as Le Douanier (the customs officer) because he was a  tariff collector, too.

The Flamingoes, Henri Rousseau 1907

The Flamingoes, Henri Rousseau 1907

I like The Flamingoes. The perspectives turns it into two different paintings. First, the flamingos in the foreground and the natives on the sandbar are proportional to each other with giant stylized water lilies in the foreground and giant palm trees in the background.  The second perspective is vice versa. The water lilies are vibrantly colored in comparison with the muted tones of the backdrop.


“I hate books. They only teach us to talk about things we know nothing about,” said (the self-taught) Henri Rousseau.