Honoré Daumier and La Maison Aubert: Politics and Social Satire in Paris.

A seminar at Rutgers University, NJ, Zimmerli Art Museum


This seminar will anticipate the retrospective exhibition Honoré Daumier and La Maison Aubert: Politics and Social Satire in Paris, which will be on view at the Zimmerli Art Museum in the spring of 2008. Discussions will center around the art of Daumier, which explores issues, such as the power of popular arts as a tool for subversion; the role of censorship in shaping a moralistic cultural and societal climate; the fashionable pseudo-sciences of physiognomy and phrenology, as means to emphasize human qualities or flaws. Whenever possible, students will study from the museum’s collection of French prints by Daumier and other artists, including the satirists Charles Traviès (1804-1859) and J. J. Grandville (1803-1847). We will also explore key figures from the Romantic Movement and Realist art, such as Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863) and Gustave Courbet (1819-1877) who actively rejected the traditional academic teachings of the Beaux-Arts School.

Seminar participants will explore political, societal and cultural issues of French art from the July Monarchy (1830-1848) to the Second Republic (1848-1852) through their participation in research projects for the exhibition. Requirements include brief class presentations on reading assignments and a research project, which will result in the writing of didactic panels and explanatory labels for the exhibition. The research paper will be presented in a short oral report at the end of the semester. This seminar will result in a symposium in which the students will present their research to fellow Rutgers students, faculty, alumni, and the community. The symposium will take place at the Zimmerli Art Museum on the day of the exhibition’s opening in February 2008.