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"C'est la vie: The Paris of Daumier and Toulouse-Lautrec" opens at Hamburger Kunsthalle
Honoré Daumier (1808 - 1879), Eine Theaterloge, um 1865. Öl auf Holz, 26,5 x 35 cm. Hamburger Kunsthalle, Dauerleihgabe der Stiftung für die Hamburger Kunstsammlungen © SHK /Hamburger Kunsthalle /bpk. Photo: Elke Walford.
HAMBURG.- This is the first exhibition that pays a comparative tribute to the two great French lithographers of the nineteenth century, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864–1901) and Honoré Daumier (1808–1879). The artists are not only alike in giving the highest importance to the lithographic technique, but also in their snapshot view of the French capital Paris with the eye of an outsider, from a peripheral position. 2014 is the 150th anniversary of the birth of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Reason enough to honour this virtuoso of the belle époque, whose colour-saturated prints still bear impressive witness to Parisian night- life at the turn of the century, with a presentation of his outstanding images.

Toulouse-Lautrec enters surprisingly clearly into a dialogue with the art of Honoré Daumier. He paraphrases, reinterprets, amplifies – a hitherto overlooked aspect of the artist’s work. Daumier, who for a long time was primarily seen in a political light, can be experienced as a sharp-tongued chronicler of his fellow citizens in the metropolitan bustle. Like Daumier, Toulouse-Lautrec was an avid protagonist of his time who portrayed people with unsparing directness in their social context. The dialogical comparison shows scenes from the Paris courts, city-dwellers amusing themselves in the country or people’s eccentric behaviour as soon as they find themselves in the company of others.

Although the exhibition focuses on lithographic masterpieces, the sophisticated posters and true-to-life caricatures that have left their mark on the collective memory to this day, Toulouse-Lautrec and the al- most two generations older Daumier were also highly adept in the use of other media. Drawings and oil paintings set a vibrant counterpoint in various parts of the exhibition, which is able to draw on an abundance of works from the Hamburger Kunsthalle, other large museums and private collections.

The picture of nineteenth-century Paris so impressively conveyed by the two artists is complemented by film documentaries and historical photographs.

Curators: Prof. Hubertus Gaßner and Dr Jonas Beyer

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