Caricatures by Honoré Daumier (1808–1879) chronicle France’s history through three revolutions and track French society through two regime changes. With caricaturist’s unflinching gaze, Daumier recorded important political events and provided cutting criticism of the elites and the bourgeois Paris of the first half of the 19th century.
Daumier was one of the first artists to employ the newly invented method of lithography, which offered fast high-quality reproduction and jumpstarted daily press. Satirical magazines of the time (La Caricature, Le Charivari), publishing Daumier, Balzac and Philipon, became the hubs of public and creative life in Paris of the time.
An idealist who wore his heart on his sleeve, Daumier didn’t flinch away from criticizing the king himself, producing the print Gargantua which depicts Louis Philippe I as a monster gorging on the gold stolen from the poor. The artist was jailed for 6 months for creating the print, but neither his arrest not his faltering eyesight stopped Daumier from drawing till his dying breath. Lithographs were his only source of subsistence, allowing the artist to survive while staying true to his calling.
Having created around 4,000 lithographs, 1,000 paintings and 100 satirical sculptures, Daumier remains a timeless figure. The exhibition at the 2017 Arsenal Book Festival explores the life and works of Daumier, brilliantly described as the Michelangelo of Caricature by his contemporary Honoré de Balzac.
Organizers: Ya Gallery, UVK (Ukrainian Visual Book).