View of Malakoff Hauts de Seine (1903) by Henri Rousseau

View of Malakoff Hauts de Seine - Henri Rousseau - 1903

Artwork Information

TitleView of Malakoff Hauts de Seine
ArtistHenri Rousseau
Art MovementNaïve Art (Primitivism)
Current LocationPrivate Collection

About View of Malakoff Hauts de Seine

The artwork “View of Malakoff, Hauts-de-Seine,” created by Henri Rousseau in 1903, is an oil on canvas representing the Naïve Art movement, specifically Primitivism. This cityscape belongs to a private collection and illustrates a scene from the suburban town of Malakoff, located in the Hauts-de-Seine département of France.

In the artwork, the viewer is presented with a perspective of an urban street leading into the distance. On either side of the street, there are buildings with a simple architectural style; their facades facing the viewer are non-descript, allowing the structures to merge seamlessly into the background. A noteworthy characteristic of the painting is the pronounced detailing of the cracked earth in a broad expanse at the foreground, symbolizing barrenness or neglect, which contrasts the urban environment.

The sky is overcast with heavy grey clouds, which elicit a somber mood and perhaps suggest the onset of inclement weather. There are several figures on the sidewalk, all depicted wearing black garments and yellow hats, moving towards the direction of the street. These figures seem small and insignificant against the scale of their surroundings, emphasizing a sense of quietude within the cityscape.

One of the most striking features of the artwork is the array of telephone poles and the crisscrossing of the wires they support, which draw the eye towards the depth of the painting. These poles add a sense of modernity to the scene, a hint of the industrial era’s influence encroaching upon the natural and built environment. The foliage is represented in blocks of green, giving an impression of density and lushness to the trees, contrasting with the starkness of the urban elements.

The artwork’s technique and style are typical of Rousseau’s self-taught approach, featuring a flatness of depth and a peculiar, almost childlike rendering of perspective and proportion, hallmark traits of Naïve Art. Despite the simplicity of the elements, the composition evokes contemplation about the human interaction with the environment and technology’s impact on the natural and urban landscape.

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