Front Cover Henri Rousseau:  The Snake Charmer (detail) 1907 


Henri Rousseau 1895 

Leger's own yearning for folk art an art that was close to ordinary people was fulfilled in the work of Rousseau. Although he rarely referred to it directly in his many speeches and writings, Leger loved this painter who could do nothing else but speak a language that for him, Leger, was program and postulate. If he frequently praised the "argot," the slang of the common people their specific manner of expressing themselves, which he maintained corresponded to the artistic idiom of modern artists this showed the closeness of the two painters. He once wrote:

"Poetic sensitivity is innate in the common people. Who except the man in the street creates and renews the spoken poetry of argot day after day? With their inexhaustible power of creation ordinary people transform the reality of their everyday life. And what do modern artists do? Exactly the same thing! Our pictures are our argot. In them we transform objects, forms and colours. Should it then be so difficult to understand them and get closer to them?

Henri Rousseau  Dreams of the Jungle Werner Schmalenbach