Thursday, January 31, 2013

Rue Transnonain

Honoré Daumier was a prominent lithographer. Born in Marseilles, it was his father's literary ambitions as a poet which brought Daumier to Paris as a child. Best known for his caricatures, Rue Transnonain departs from his well known work, taking the viewer down a much darker path. In early photography as well as lithography, the dead were advantageously still for the artist. As a result many works come from the documentation of the dead. Daumier, however, does not merely use the medium for documentation's sake. He uses his art as an impetus for revolution. 

His lithograph is of a family, shortly after a riot, brutally murdered by French soldiers. The innocent families were decimated, unarmed. In his lithograph we become aware of the tragic abuse of power which the government was taking advantage of. The desperate form of a father attempting, futilely to protect his daughter, did precisely what Daumier intended. It spread discontent and outrage among the people, inciting further rebellion. Thanks to the lithograph's ease of duplication, this image quickly found its way into the hands of many people who, regardless of education or literacy, were able to see the need for a change of system. The image incites the reader to look more closely, astonished at the horrific nature of the image. Upon closer inspection, the other bodies of the family appear in the dark recesses of the image. Its power is  just as astounding today as it was to French populace in 1834.

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