Tropical Landscape by Henri Rousseau

one of my old favorites at the VMFA

Every time I look at this picture , I’m thinking about it for days. The artist picked the man he thought was closest to nature, the American Indian. and the animal he thought was closest to man, the gorilla, and put them together in a death match. It looks like the gorilla will get stabbed in the eye, so man wins this fight. But look at the big picture. Man is tiny next to nature, with 15 or 20 foot flowers. And the sun is going down. I don’t think it’s going up because it’s on a western wall in the gallery.  What happens next ? Will the man get killed overnight ? Or will he make a fire and eat the gorilla ? The sun looks a little scary. You can ask yourself a lot of questions with this picture. Does it represent man fighting his inner beast ?  Do you think it represents all humans fighting nature ? Would man stand a chance without the weapon ? It’s not the only piece at the museum with man stabbing beast in the eye. We also have a small bronze of Theseus stabbing the Minotaur in the eye. I think it was a popular theme in the 1800s. I want to draw the bronze .


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