One of nineteenth century Frances most popular and influential artists brings Birmingham a fascinating look into politics, society and culture in the exhibition Daumier: Art For the Masses - Selected Works from the Rowe Collection.The exhibition of 169 lithographs is being exhibited at the Birmingham Museum of Arts
Daumier (1808-1879) was a painter and sculptor, but he was also a prominent printmaker, producing more than four thousand lithographs, many of which were satires depicting the lighter aspects of French politics, society, and culture.
This fall, the BMA exhibition features Daumiers insightful take on subjects such as art, drinking and dining, feminism, Gallic life, love and family life, and the theater - all illlustrated with great skill and sharpness of opinion. 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 to fame today, in his own time it was the humor, wit, and audacity evident in Art for the Masses for which Daumier was most celebrated.
The exhibition comes to to the museum from Dr. Patrick Rowe, a collector and organizer of the exhibition. Rowe is Professor in Art History at Pensacola Junior College and in addition to university teaching positions throughout Florida, Rowe served as Site Director of Florida State University Excavations at Cetamura, Italy. As a collector, Rowe has focused on 19th century prints, amassing a collection of over 900 prints by Daumier, Hokusai, and Beardsley.
We are very grateful to Pat Rowe for allowing us to bring this collection to Birmingham, said BMA Deputy Director Jeannine OGrody. As a collector, he has focused on artists who made their works easily available to the general public. The extraordinary prints in this exhibition were executed for the popular daily newspapers, and thus available to all. It is an attitude that we have always embraced here at the BMA, where the admission has been free since inception in 1951.