Selected Works from the Rowe Collection
Jemison Galleries // October 9 - December 31, 2011 // FREE
Jean-Honoré Daumier (1808-1879) was one of nineteenth-century France’s most popular and influential artists. Although he was a painter and sculptor, he was also a prominent printmaker. Daumier produced over four thousand lithographs, many of which were satires depicting the lighter aspects of French politics, society, and culture. This fall the BMA will host an exhibition of 169 lithographs that treat subjects such as Art, Drinking and Dining, Feminism, Gallic Life, Love and Family Life, and the Theater. Daumier made these works for illustrations in popular daily newspapers, thus providing art that could be viewed and enjoyed by all. Fourteen prints in the exhibition remain intact in the original newspapers, while the rest were long ago cut out to be appreciated as stand-alone works of art. For the 21st-century viewer, these prints bring to life the quotidian quirks of 19th-century Parisians. The poet and art critic Charles Baudelaire referred to Daumier as “one of the most important men… [not] only of caricature, but also of modern art.” While his skill as a painter and sculptor may be his greatest claim today, in his own time it was the humor, wit, and audacity evident in Art for the Masses for which Daumier was most celebrated.
Daumier: Art for the Masses is supported by Mr. and Mrs. Donald Patton and the Lydia Eustis Rogers Fund.
Think of Daumier as the original Jon Stewart. Like Stewart, Daumier got people talking (and chuckling) about the social and political issues of his day. He ruffled feathers with his hilarious and sometimes biting commentary. His saucy sketches appeared in daily newspapers and offered the masses a fresh perspective on current events. These drawings and their captions had to pass strict censorship laws, and his antics even landed him in jail for 6 months! He targeted everyone from bar wenches to well-known politicians (think Jersey's Snooki to North Korea's President, Kim Jong-il), using humor and wit to spark lively debate about hot topics.
In this exhibition, visitors will enjoy Daumier’s old-school take on 19th-century French life, and will see the similarities to our own modern media chatter. Visitors will leave discussing, debating, and knowing that the old adage is true: the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Get started now! We have removed Daumier's original captions to see how YOU would describe the images today. What smart, insightful, or just plain funny comment can you come up with to get people talking?