Henri Rousseau

Henri Julien Felix Rosseau , born May 21, 1844 in France was a well known self taught painter.  He was born into the family of a plumber and he was forced to work there as a small boy. Rousseau attended high school during the day and at night would be a boarder at night. After high school he worked for a lawyer and studied law, but “attempted a small perjury and sought refuge in the army(4). Henri than served four years . When his father died , Rosseau went back to France to help his mom and than got a government job. While there he got married to his landlords 15 year old daughter when he was 24. Together they had seven children but unfortunately only one survived. Rousseau paintings weren’t extremely popular but over the years he attained many fans. Picasso was also a fan of his work and even hosted an event event in honor of him. For Rousseau his career never traveled out of France. I chose the piece , “The Dream”. The Dream was created in 1910 , on a large oil painted canvas. This painting was one of 25 of Rosseau jungle theme paintings. (2)It is currently showing in the Moma , which was a donated piece.(3) The female lying on a divan was his Polish mistress , Yadwigha. Some people didn’t understand the painting so he wrote a poem for it , which was originally in French.

Yadwigha in a beautiful dream
Having fallen gently to sleep
Heard the sounds of a reed instrument
Played by a well-intentioned [snake] charmer.
As the moon reflected
On the rivers [or flowers], the verdant trees,
The wild snakes lend an ear
To the joyous tunes of the instrument (1)

Rousseau deciding to paint his mistress in a jungle which he was inspired from by literature , makes it aesthetically pleasing. Portraying something real in his perspective and completely ignoring traditional styles also fits the theme of modernism.Seeing the painting in MoMa was one thing and actually reading up on it was something else.  Finding out that there was in fact a poem to better on understand the painting was shocking. Most times you are left to see a painting and to make your own conclusions but that wasn’t the case here. Also that he was brave enough to paint his mistress when he was in fact married to his second wife. A daring man he was. Additionally it amazed me that this was a painting created by him the same year he died. When I first saw it , it caught eye by how huge it was.  It was so vibrant and beautiful to me. Mostly because its as if the woman was at peace , at home in the jungle. The animals are just in the background , sort of in the shadows. Reminds me of man at peace with nature. The nudity as well caught me , I think she has an gorgeous body.  I truly enjoyed it , I wouldn’t mind having a painting like this hung in my bathroom.


Works Cited

1.”The Dream (Rousseau Painting).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 16 Apr. 2017. Web. 19 May 2017.
2.”Henri Rousseau, and His Paintings.” Henri Rousseau – Biography, Paintings, Quotes of Henri Rousseau. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 May 2017.
3.”Henri Rousseau. The Dream. 1910 | MoMA.” The Museum of Modern Art. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 May 2017.
4.”Henri Rousseau.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 14 May 2017. Web. 19 May 2017.

Woman with Pears

Pablo Picasso was born in Spain in 1881, and grew up there. However, he spent most of his adult life in France while he was working as an artist. He is known as one of the most influential and celebrated artists of the twentieth century. He is one of the most famous modernists of 19th century who worked on cubism paintings and opened a new expressive way of modernism in arts. Picasso said, “Paintings are flat, sculptures are 3-dimensional. Why cannot paintings be made to see things from different directions?” (4). He is one of the founding fathers of cubism in modern art. He reflected life, landscape and work through his paintings which was done in cubism. According to the Library Journal, Picasso produced about 1500 illustrations during the period of cubism (1).

“Woman with Pears’ represents the portrait of Fernande Olivier Pablo who is Picasso’s mistress and who also inspired the artist’s rose period”(2). In the picture called ‘Woman with Pears’, Picasso used a combination of science and math to embody beauty and human structure of a woman. Here he used a lot of triangles and rectangles to fragment the round structure which eventually portraits her face. On the other hand, to draw pears he used circle which is quite different in shape compared to triangles. The shadow and contrast created by using those shapes in this two dimensional picture is truly beautiful and unique.

There is no fancy try to make it realistic. In fact, the brush strokes are pretty obvious in the art. The combination of different shapes and segmenting them to shape the art were something new compared to the traditional arts of those time. Here we see darkness and brightness of the woman’s face which reflects the aesthetic side of the art. While it could be all beautiful, the artist chooses to combine both side of human nature. Craving is another practice in aestheticism (3). Here in the picture, it’s clear that Picasso craved in the area of the woman’s neck which clarifies the the artist preferred the art to be aesthetic.

I haven’t encountered this art in any other context. However, the facial expression of the woman is kind of strange. It’s unclear if she has a happy or sad expression. And slicing the round shape to embody the art makes me think if there is any internal sadness(of the woman) the artist tried to represent.

Work Cited

  1. Frosch, Paula. “Picasso Cubism, 1907-1917 (Book).” Library Journal, vol. 116, no. 2, 2/1/1991, p.77.EBSCOhost,mail.lagcc.cuny.edu/viplogin/default.aspx?redirect=http://search.ebscohost.com.rpa.laguardia.edu:2048/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=9102183479&site=ehost-live.
  2. http://www.widewalls.ch/pablo-picasso-portraits/the-old-guitarist/
  3. https://books.google.com/books?id=WqlSM_MxoRoC&pg=PA106&lpg=PA106&dq=picasso+is+aesthetic+art+woman+with+pears&source=bl&ots=eayor5opps&sig=Sx5SsPt2w2qxz_hGTRVCruMQun8&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwin5eeX5fzTAhVDSCYKHYoZA38Q6AEIVjAN#v=onepage&q=picasso%20is%20aesthetic%20art%20woman%20with%20pears&f=false
  4. http://modernism-literature-movement.weebly.com/cubism.html

Ma Jolie

Ma Jolie
When we think of art, the name Pablo Picasso comes to our mind. Pablo Picasso was born in October 25th, 1881, Malaga, Spain. He was born as Spanish but he becomes one of the most famous artists for the whole world. He is famous for his painting, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, stage designer, poet, and playwright. Picasso lived in France most of his life. He died in France in April 8, 1973. Picasso combined language, symbolic meaning, and near abstraction. The picture I choose to write about is call “Ma Jolie” (my pretty girl) was made in 1911-1912 by Picasso. This is one of his famous paintings Picasso made, uses of oil on canvas. He drew his inspiration from the Partisan music group. “Ma Jolie” was a popular tune at that time, also Picasso was nicknamed after his girlfriend Marcelle Humbert He made her figure which he loosely built using the signature shifting planes of analytic cubism. This is very different from traditional pictures of an artist’s love on, but there were some information to mental peace. The central triangular shape clearly signals the shape of a woman’s head and torso. Also there are group of six vertical lines at the painting that look like strings of a guitar, which the woman strums. In here Picasso combined language, symbolic meaning, and near abstraction.
Pablo Picasso’s loved for the musical instrument; inspired him to make this painting using the signature shifting planes. Ma Jolie is not a traditional art it is a modern art because we see the artist take a traditional subject a woman holding a guitar. He composed the figure into the different planes; he made angles, lines, and shading, completely abstracting the face. Six stings in the center of the picture looks like guitar and a symbol in the front of the portrayed that tell us this is a modern art.
This art is very unique, because in this piece of art Picasso tries to challenge the art and culture. He was planning to change his direction to do an experimental work. As a result, we see how Picasso uses the cultural theme in his painting. Picasso linked this piece of art with pop culture and everyday life. He fined different interest in the pop art. Also he uses many new materials in this piece of art and symbol that is different than rational art.
When I visited MOMA there were many portrayed hanging around, but Ma Joile is different from many other for me. As I looked at the picture first thing I saw the color combination of the portrait and shape. This is a very distinctive piece of art; I was image by the picture. It is extremely significant than rest of the portrayed, He shows his talent in his art work and I believe after so many years still people love his portrayed.

Isabel Allende, “And of Clay are We Created”

–What do you think the significance of Allende’s title is? What does it mean to be made of clay? –

-What happens to Rolf in his encounter with Azucena?

–Why do you think Azucena becomes a symbol of the tragedy that is unfolding in the story?

–What did you make of the President’s visit to the site of the disaster? What kind of commentary is Allende making here?

–How can you connect this story with your own experiences of natural or other disasters? Are there elements of the story that you can relate to? How?

Tayeb Salih, “The Doum Tree of Wad Hamid”


–Why does the narrator address his listener as “my son”?

–The narrator tells us that “every new generation finds the doum tree as though it had been born at the time of their birth and would grow up with them.” What do you make of this?

–What seems to be the story’s perspective on the government in newly independent Sudan? What’s the relationship between the government and the villagers?

–Explain the shift in narratorial perspective in the final passages of the story? How does it change our own view of the text

Borowski, “This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen”


— What did you learn from this story that you did not previously know about life in Nazi concentration camps?

–This story can be described as a kind of “initiation story” for the narrator.  How is he changed or transformed by the events of the narrative?

–A tall, grey-haired woman who has just arrived on the “transport” whispers, “My poor boy,” to our narrator.  What does she mean?

–“Are we good people?” asks our narrator.  What is this exchange about? What do you think?

–Explain the significance of the story’s title, “This Way to the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen.”  What seems strange about it?

Lu Xun, “In the Wineshop”

–The story’s narrator is revisiting a place he once lived.  Explain the significance that this “revisiting” has in relation to the themes of the story.

–What is the connection between our narrator and Weifu?  Why do you think so much of the story is spent on Weifu’s life, while the narrator shares very little about his own life experiences?

–Explain the significance of the story about reburying Weifu’s little brother?

–Weifu recalls when he and the narrator used to pull the beards off religious statues in the Temple when they were younger.  What is the significance of this memory?

–Describe an instance of filial piety in the story.  What is its significance?

–What aspects of this short story seem to you to be particularly modernist?

Modernism in Visual Art – Extra Credit Opportunity

Modernism in Visual Art

Extra Credit Opportunity

English 2850

Spring 2017

As an extension of our study of Modernism, for this extra credit assignment you will be exploring Modernism in visual art through a visit to one of the NYC museums listed below:

Museum of Modern Art (www.moma.org) 11 W.53rd Street

Go to information desk with your CUNY student ID to receive free admission.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (www.metmuseum.org) 1000 Fifth Avenue

Pay as you wish!

At the museum, you will select one piece of work created between 1890 and the beginning of WWII in 1939 that you believe can be described as modernist. It might be helpful to keep in mind that impressionism, expressionism, cubism, and surrealism are all streams of modernism. On our course blog, post an image of the work (either a photograph taken by you at the museum or an image found online) and a post of 400-500 words about the work. Be sure to include the following elements:

–Basic information about the artist.

–A description of work you selected.

–An analysis of how this work reflects the aesthetic preferences associated with Modernism.

–A description of the context in which you encountered the work.

–An explanation of what drew you to this piece.

–Any questions you have about the work.

In order to receive the extra credit, your work must be posted to our course blog by Friday, May 19th at 5 pm. Posts that contain material taken from another source without proper attribution will not receive any credit.

Please retain proof of your visit to the museum to be submitted to me in person at our final exam or electronically via email no later than Thursday, May 25th.

Kafka, “The Metamorphosis”


–Do you think that Gregor is more powerful BEFORE or AFTER his metamorphosis?  Explain your response.

–How is Gregor’s family transformed in the wake of his metamorphosis?

–At the end of the second section of the story, Gregor’s father pelts him with apples.  What do you think this episode is about?

–Gregor emerges from his room one last time when he hears his sister playing her violin for the lodgers.  What is the significance of this? What meaning does music hold for Gregor here?

–Ultimately, what do you think Gregor’s metamorphosis means?  What does it mean to be transformed into a giant bug?

–Explain your understanding of Gregor’s death.  How/why does he ultimately die?

T.S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

–The poem opens, “Let us go then, you and I….” Whom do you think the speaker is addressing here?
–What is Prufrock’s relationship to time?
–Look at the description of the yellow smoke in the second and third stanzas of the poem. What do you make of this description?
–“I have measured out my life with coffee spoons,” laments Prufrock. What do you think this line means?
–Describe the overall mood of the poem. What feelings does it leave you with?
–In the final lines of the poem, the speaker shifts from “I” to “We.” How do we explain this shift?