Art: Master of the Green Machine Moma's

Rousseau exhibit reveals a depth of exotic formality

The Henri Rousseau show at New York City's Museum of Modern Art (through June 4) alters one's view of his work, as retrospectives are meant to--but downward. It is, however, a delight to visit. One could write a little dictionary of received ideas about this engaging "primitive." It would begin with his nickname, the Douanier. (He was not, as MOMA's excellent catalog stresses, a customs inspector, but a much lowlier form of bureaucratic life, a gabelou, or toll collector.) The dictionary would go through a whole list of legendary things that Rousseau did not do or see or say, things he...

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