Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Impossible Heterogeneity of Jerry

You know how on the "blog" we're always like, "art" this and "paint" that? Well, today I was leafing through a book about Henri Rousseau and it struck me how much the critical views on him - pro and con - mirror cultural attitudes about... wait for it... Jerry Lewis. One guy said something about "the impossible heterogeneity" of Rousseau's painting "The Dream" (above) causing people to either shrug or burst into laughter. That's not a good example. I'd like to find another one but I don't have the book with me and I'm too tired to walk across the room. Some viewed Rousseau with "sarcastic incomprehension" (I think that's a quote) while a NEW WAVE (get it?) of French artists championed him as an unrecognized visionary for his blending of "high" and "low" styles and motifs. I remind you that this is a "blog," so who cares if my characterization is valid? But I draw your attention to another Rousseau painting (not pictured here; do I have to do ALL the work?) with a couple of monkeys poking another monkey with a stick, and all the monkeys look somewhat like Scottish terriers. And they're playing with a bottle of milk that has somehow wound up in the jungle! If I recall correctly, some gallery felt so upset and confused by the antics of the monkeys that they shoved the painting in a corner and pretended it wasn't there. The name of that painting was "The Merry Jesters," and if you're not feeling the Jerryness of Rousseau yet, I feel sorry for you! I really do! Monkeys knocking over a bottle of milk! A bottle of milk that's there for no reason! Get with it! Near the end of the book, some other guy - I want to say his name was Andre Salmon, but I may be making that up, too - is quoted as saying of Rousseau, "We must learn not to resist him." That's exactly what Megan Abbott and I said about Jerry Lewis that time! P.S. Sorry if the naked lady is too racy.