One hundred years after the death of the French artist Henri Rousseau (1844–1910), the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is devoting an exhibition to this pioneer of Modernism—the first occasion that Rousseau has been seen in depth in Spain. Organized by the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in co-operation with the Fondation Beyeler, Henri Rousseau presents a selection of approximately thirty masterpieces that provide a concise overview of the development and diversity of his oeuvre. From his famous jungle paintings in the later stages of his career, to the views of Paris and its environs, figures, portraits, allegories, and genre paintings, the exhibition gives a unique insight into the essential visual world of Rousseau. May 25, 2010 – September 12, 2010 at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Avenida Abandoibarra, 2 Bilbao 48001, Spain.
A customs official by vocation, Rousseau initially took up painting in his free time and received no formal art training. Many years passed before his art, not academic and long considered naive, found recognition in the Paris art salons.
His importance within art history lies in his groundbreaking compositional mechanisms and painstaking technique, which greatly influenced younger generations of artists. Along with Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh, and Paul Gauguin, Rousseau’s visual inventions paved the way for the twentieth-century’s nascent Modernist movement.
Many renowned museums and collections in Europe and America have contributed to the success of the exhibition by their generous provision of loans. These include the Musée national de l’Orangerie, the Musée d’Orsay, and the Musée national d’Art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, in Paris; The Mayor Gallery, London; Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel; the Nahmad Collection, Switzerland; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York; the Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Massachusetts; the National Gallery of Art and the Phillips Collection, in Washington, D.C.; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; the Kunsthaus Zürich; and a number of private collections.
The exhibition has been curated by Philippe Büttner, Curator at the Fondation Beyeler, and Susan Davidson, Senior Curator, Collections & Exhibitions at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. In conjunction with the exhibition a fully illustrated color catalogue will be published with essays by Philippe Büttner, Christopher Green (who helped to develop the exhibition concept), Franz Hohler, and Daniel Kramer, as well as notes on the works by Philippe Büttner, Nancy Ireson, Daniel Kramer, and Simone Küng.