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PRINT January 2001

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Henri Rousseau

NAÏF, PRIMITIVE, A SUNDAY PAINTER, childlike, a natural—these are some of the words long used to categorize Henri Rousseau and his work. All have been disputed, and none will do alone. But taken together, they give something of the flavor of this extraordinary artist, who possessed one of the most startling pictorial intelligences of his time. Self-taught, ambitious, and longing for official recognition, he emerged nearly fully formed in the mid-1880s. Between 1900 and his death in 1910, Rousseau made some of his most haunting and fantastic paintings. Toward the end of his life, his work was influential and already prized by artists; Picasso, Robert Delaunay, Max Weber, and Kandinsky were among an enthusiastic circle of admirers who acquired his canvases. During the interwar years, Rousseau became a significant presence in the collections of preeminent figures such as Albert Barnes,

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