The Art of Making Art

“The Strong Man” by Honore Daumier (1865) @ Through Vincent’s Eyes

I like landscapes very much, but 10 times more these studies of everyday life, sometimes of terrifying truthfulness, [that artists such as] Daumier […] have drawn with such mastery.

Vincent van Gogh

Posting this one for all my Renaissance Festival, recovering street performer, theater producing and event promoting friends out there — who know all too well the daily grind of simply getting people to come see your show. Spoiler: underneath the surface level theme of showing the lifestyle of struggling artists in Paris, the word on the street is that Daumier had a political angle as well (which was his wont), and the “strong man” represents the “strong arm” of the government and its efforts at the time to limit free speech.

It certainly wasn’t the first time an artist would make a political statement through the guise of a work of art, and it wouldn’t be the last. (Not even for Daumier.)

Meanwhile, our dearest friend Vincent was drawn in by Daumier’s attention to the trials and tribulations of the lower class (a theme I’m certain constant readers will recognize by now), and I have to imagine he admired Daumier’s willingness to speak truth to power, even to the point of being jailed for it (apparently one wasn’t supposed to paint King Louise-Phillippe as an obscene, vulgar, bulbous mass).

I had never heard of this ridiculously prolific painter, sculptor, printmaker, and political caricaturist before attending the Through Vincent’s Eyes exhibition, and the exercise of doing more research just to put a quick blog post together on this piece has been nothing short of fascinating — and perhaps a tad overwhelming: he produced more than 100 sculptures, 500 paintings, 1000 drawings, 1000 wood engravings, and 4000 lithographs.

Fortunately he has an impressive fan base who are more than willing to share the wonders of his underappreciated artistic endeavors, with a main website that is chalk full of easily navigable reference material (although beware, they navigate you into their myriad of Daumier rabbit holes), and I now have yet another artist to add to my list of holy crap did they make a ton of art that I need to know more about.

Shot on Pixel 6 Pro.

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