French artist Henri Rousseau (1844–1910) has often been considered a naive painter, but his work was much admired by Pablo Picasso and other members of the Parisian avant garde. Despite Rousseau's ravishing depictions of jungle scenes, he never went beyond France's borders. His "jungles" were creative reworkings of images culled from the popular press and visits to the zoos and botanical gardens of Paris. This film examines Rousseau's career in the context of the French obsession with the exotic in the later 19th century during the nation's colonial expansion. Drawing on rare archival footage, photos, and ephemera from the period, the film also features present-day footage from Rousseau's Parisian "jungles"—the parks, gardens, and greenhouses that fueled his imagination—and interviews with contemporary scholars.
Produced by the Department of Exhibition Programs, National Gallery of Art, Washington, on the occasion of the exhibition Henri Rousseau: Jungles in Paris.
- 35 minutes
- Closed captioned
- Released: 2006
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