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An Eye for Satire: The Lithographs of Honoré-Victorin Daumier

Saturday, April 12–Sunday, July 6, 2003

Honoré-Victorin Daumier, Mlle. Etienne-Joconde-Cunégonde-Bécassine de Constitionnel, 1834.

In conjunction with The Drawings of Rube Goldberg, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery exhibited a selection of lithographs by French artist Honoré-Victorin Daumier (1808-1879). Daumier was both a prolific artist and devoted humanist. At a time when France was continually enmeshed in political turmoil, Daumier thrived in an underground society of “bohemian” artists who questioned political and social mores in nineteenth-century Paris. Although Daumier was first and foremost a painter and sculptor, the bulk of his lifetime income came from his highly popular caricatures published in weekly French journals such as La Caricature and La Charivari. Images of corrupt politicians, judges, swindlers, dubious rascals, and human folly in general, echo Daumier’s humanist viewpoint and his strong social conscience. The images that were on view, an excellent sampling of Daumier’s satirical eye, are unique historical documents that reflect the amusements, costume, demeanor, and politics of fin-de-siècle Parisian life.

Organized at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery by Curatorial Assistant Holly E. Hughes, the exhibition included thirty-three images culled from the Gallery’s extensive permanent collection of works on paper.