Honoré Daumier is today remembered as a giant among caricaturists. Central to his lasting legacy was his wonderful reinvention of Robert Macaire, the farcical figurehead of French 19th century social tumult and political incompetency. Today, we explore the history behind these celebrated cartoons, plus a fantastic promotional poster by the equally sardonic Bruce McLean – and, with new Nic Collins exhibition pots set to arrive later this week, a taste of his extraordinary wood-fired work.
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Honoré Daumier was born February 1808 in Marseilles. In 1815 his family moved to Paris (allowing Daumier’s father to pursue a career as a poet) and eventually Daumier came to study art at the Académie Suisse. Working as an assistant to the publisher, Bélliard, Daumier mastered the art of lithography and made his first copies of drawings from the Louvre. Through his imagery he targeted the foibles of the bourgeoisie, the corruption of the law and the incompetence of the government through his acerbic pictorial statements. Daumier died in February 1879 in Valmondois at the age of 71. During the course of his life he produced over 4,000 lithographs of political and social comment.
Nic Collins was born in 1958 in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire. A self-taught potter and woodfirer, he started building kilns and wheels during his late teens and early 20s, experimenting with raku, salt glazing and sawdust firings, and using clay sourced from local river banks. He studied studio ceramics at Derby College of Art 1985-86 and then went on to work in potteries in Italy and Germany before returning to the UK. He now lives and works in Devon, on the edge of Dartmoor.
Scottish performance artist and painter. He studied at Glasgow School of Art from 1961 to 1963, and from 1963 to 1966 at St Martin’s School of Art, London, where he and others rebelled against what appeared to be the formalist academicism of his teachers. From the mid 1970s, while continuing to mount occasional performances, McLean turned increasingly to painting, in a witty and subversive parody of current expressionist styles, and to ceramics.