via Art L!es, Issue #49 : The Sincerity Issue
I read that in 1908 Picasso threw a banquet at his studio for Henri "le Douanier" Rousseau. At the end of the night, in the company of Paris' avant-garde artists and writers, the self-trained painter of naïve scenes turned to Picasso and said, "You and I are the two most important artists of the age—you in the Egyptian style and I in the Modern one." Everyone there would laugh for a long time at this memory, and until his death, Picasso would claim that the banquet was a blague—a joke played by the cosmopolitan avant-garde on the naiveté perfected by the tollkeeper on the Seine. But in 1937, when Republican Spain asked Picasso to respond to the aerial bombing of the Basque town of Guernica, Picasso rejected everything he himself had innovated and produced a painting that draws heavily on Rousseau; more specifically, Rousseau's War, or Discord on Horseback, a painting that Alfred Jarry first admired at Salon des Indépendants in 1894 and reviewed in Le Mercure de France. Everything—from the warrior's broken body to the horse at its center—is done under the sign of Rousseau, who taught Picasso how to be sincere when the time for sincerity had come.