Friday, January 09, 2015

Honoré Daumier

At the time of his work Honoré Daumier had been well known for satirical lithography he submitted his work often to the liberal French Republican Journal, Cariacture In these pieces, he made derisive fun of the foibles and misbehavior of lawyers, politicians and middle class gentry. In touch with the acute social and political unrest in Paris at that time he depicted events that were the result of the rapid development of an urban industrial society. As might be expected, the sting of his critical wit often put him in conflict with the government. In his unfinished The Third-Class Carraige

Daumier's quick penmanship style shows the viewer his interest in the political community. At that time it was an in your face realism, a way to cover events in an unrealized vehicle. The rude railway compartment of the 1860s. The people are poor and can only afford third-class tickets, he would repeat this subject many times in his many works.

He shows them to us in the un-posed attitudes and unplanned arrangements of the millions thronging the modern city--anonymous , insignificant, dumbly patient with a lot they cannot change. Daumier saw people as they ordinarily appeared, their faces vague, impersonal blank--unprepared for any observer.

Art Through the Ages

King Louis Phillippe was Daumier's first great theme, he also had a biting way to get across the inherent need for the social reform of the French heirarchy depicted in the tragic portrayal of current events in Rue Transnonain,1834. Crafting from the ordinary continuum of life he randomly gathered isolated views ..... unrehearsed details of human existence. His unique efforts would go on to achieve a reality antecedent to the candor and spontaneous settings being captured by the snapshot camera at the end of the century.


Debbie Godwin Adams. "Artists and Art in the Classroom" Tucson, Arizona.

1994. (Lecture presented at St Joseph's Catholic School.)

Justus, Kevin. "Art and Culture II." Tucson , Arizona.

1992. (Lecture presented at Pima Community College.)

De La Croix, Horst, Richard D. Tansey, and Diane Kirkpatrick.

Art Through the Ages. University of Michigan: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.


Thursday, January 08, 2015

Rue Transnonain

Honoré Daumier had an eye for the details of his era and a wink at the timeless foibles of politics and society, he excelled at this by pricking the pretensions of 19th century France.

As for artists, Daumier might have said,

'there's always the possibility of transforming disappointment into delight.'

The primary purpose of his art work was to show the brutality of the French government while dealing with the working class, dedicating much of his life and art to social realism. Concentrating on the inequities between the classes, and atrocities committed by the government. Daumier mocked those in power, mostly in lithographs for the newspaper Cariacture Even his boss, activist publisher Charles Philipon, was the subject of caricature. But the king was Daumier's first great theme, and while King Louis Phillippe did have Rue Transnonain confiscated, the most nefarious cartoon was The King on the Pot, which landed Daumier in jail for six months, plus a 500-franc fine, thousands in today's dollars.

Despite serving time in prison for the content of his political cartoons, Daumier continued to criticize the French government,and this is where the true meaning of the Rue Transnonain lies.

French workers rioted in April of 1834 because of harsh working conditions and a new law forbidding the formation of Unions for workers. Because of an sniper's bullet a French Police Officer was killed and the reckless retaliation by the Police many innocent people were killed. It is this event that was the source of inspiration for this particular lithograph published in L'Association Mensuelle.

Unlike his earlier work, there is a total absence of caricature. Instead, the victims are portrayed with realism and similar to Francisco Goya's The Third of May, 1808 as a depiction of harsh social reality. Daumier's ideas of using art as political commentary creates a sharp, realistic angle of vision. Rue Transnonain is also important because the central dead adult was appropriated from Eugéne Delacroix's earlier revolutionary image Liberty Leading the People(1830). More than likely, the contemporary French audience would have noticed how the prostrate figure in Daumier's image is placed in a similar pose to that of Delacroix's dead man in the right foreground below the allegorical figure.

However, we are not shown the dramatic moment of execution but the terrible aftermath. The broken scattered forms lying in the midst of violent disorder, are reported as if newly found. Duamier uses every device of skill he can muster to make the situation real letting the harsh facts speak for themselves. It was obvious and evident, there was no need for interpretation from the artist. The army had rushed in and indiscriminately murdered these people. The gravity of the figure of the man, who has fallen onto his child-- he's dead; the child dead-- and the intimacy of this domestic room was profoundly moving to people. At first glance one sees the initial scene of a man in his pajamas lying dead against his bed, then the viewer is drawn to pay closer attention to the work. there is a baby crushed under the man with just its head and arms coming out from under the weight of this man. There is a pool of blood forming from the baby which intends to play on the viewers sympathy eliciting violent emotions of hatred towards the murderers who took the lives of these innocent people so obviously sleeping as indicated by the attire and disarray of the bed. The scenario is used by Daumier to elicit strong emotion and a need for social reform. The print's significance is in its factualness. What was new this time in art was the increasing artistic bias toward using fact as subject. Daumier's manner is rough and spontaneous; carrying expressive exaggeration as part of its remarkable force. He is true to life in content, but his style is uniquely personal.

Despite his high standing among other artists, the poet Charles Baudelaire called him the,
'Michelangelo of caricature.' Daumier spent much of his life in debt and when things got too hot for politics, he would turn to safer subjects. We see a tremendous interest in not as an illustrator, not to describe incidents in the book in any detail at all, unlike his contemporaries, but instead his desire to express their human experience. For example, in Miguel de Cervantes' book about human experience, the aspirations of Don Quixote, and then the human folly that the book contains. Daumier finds as a subject for lampooning Don Quixote, a wonderful symbol and image for the political cartoonist and his talented social satire -- the familiar, the tilting of the windmills, the idealism, the line, the uplift of the lanky, elongated form, and then there is Sancho Panza who was, down in the dirt, in the muck of the earth. In true satire there is always a display of disappointment in the world.

Honoré Daumier aided, abetted and recorded the emergence of so many aspects of modern art and life as we know it.


De La Croix, Horst, Richard D. Tansey, and Diane Kirkpatrick.

Art Through the Ages. University of Michigan: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Picture Source

Monday, January 05, 2015

The End Game

“All along the watchtower, princes kept the view” -Bob Dylan
A KC-135A taking off with water injection to its J-57 engines

I was looking at the splattered dust outside my window today when it hit me. I was like some kind of Pipi Longstockings going to the fair when I turned in my orange and white ID card to the guard shack at the front gate of Davis-Monthan AFB. I handed over my precious past to the grinning guard in green fatigues, neither one realizing that this was the last sounding of the death knell of my youth.

No one ever told me about this hidden right of passage. It is snake-like in its knowing, still and harmless as it waits for the right moment to unleash its wound like a deep dark secret. Stronger in my broken places, I was looking for my future, ready to embrace life in a heady youth.

Today, many of my former communities are now unsightly; desolate places. The high guard towers point at an empty sky, their scowling silhouettes softened by rowdy nests of shrieking birds. Sandbags have rotted away in grimy ditches and the shimmering light of day dances in what were once protected rooms. Warehouses that were bursting with stores lay barren surrounded with weathered whitewashed rocks.

Motorpools heavy and low with lethal profiles of armored vehicles sit vacant save for a few desolate and twisted weeds. The leathered, oily smells are long since vanquished by the breezes of time. Sections of the high perimeter wall have deteriorated and dropped into disordered heaps of brickwork. They have met their demise – exhausted of the throbbing rhythm of men and machinery that made her so powerful. The only sounds are the sorrowful squeals of metal roofs beating out lonely staccatos in their wastelands.

Maybe if I had been equipped with some iota I could have known that this inevitable day would come. I have long since raised my children and procured a home since my displacement. I can’t help but wonder what it will be like when the door closes on this chapter in this isolation from my military birthright. An unwilling sacrifice of my homeland in exchange for the quasi-rights of a civilian.

Will my sacrifice allow fathers and mothers to be able to raise their children to be strong and proud? Will I have left our world a better and brighter place for having been here? Every fiber of my being wants this to be tangible; it would justify the palpable price I have paid in the sorrows of leaving behind yet another friend, another school.

Three moves equals a fire, most Military Brats intuitively appreciate that phrase as soon as we read it. So here we are, living among the natives never really knowing if we are awakened to their detectable presence.

My surroundings have absorbed me for some thirty odd years now and today I realized that my father had the most selfish reason for wishing that this would all come to pass for me. He simply hoped to raise a child that would not have to fight another war in this land of the free; home of the brave.