Exhibition honors cartoonist Honore Daumier's work, still relevant 150 years later

More than 150 years after his satirical cartoons made waves in France, Honore Daumier is still having an impact globally -- and in Grand Forks. A new UND Art Collections exhibit at the Empire Arts Center explores Daumier's work and the quest for ...

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More than 150 years after his satirical cartoons made waves in France, Honore Daumier is still having an impact globally - and in Grand Forks.

A new UND Art Collections exhibit at the Empire Arts Center explores Daumier's work and the quest for freedom of expression through political and social commentary. The exhibit will be on display until July 14.

"These issues that Daumier expressed in the 19th century are still relevant to today's world," said Arthur Jones, exhibit curator and chairman of the UND Department of Art and Design.

Daumier was an outspoken advocate for freedom of the press during the 19th century. He devoted his career to drawing caricatures about social and political issues for Parisian publications.

On display at the Empire are panels of Daumier's cartoons as well as other similar cartoons from the time period, including socially charged illustrations by some of the artist's predecessors and contemporaries.


Featured as well are most recent satirical images that continue the quest for freedom of expression, including illustrations by former Grand Forks Herald cartoonist Stuart McDonald and a cartoon by Stephane Charbonnier, who was killed in the Charlie Hebdo attack.

The exhibition and the themes it showcases are highly relevant in light of recent attacks on free expression, Jones said. Events such as the assassination of four political cartoonists among several others at the headquarters of the satirical weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris on Jan. 7 helped shape the entire exhibit's theme.

"We really weren't sure what theme we were going to go with until we saw what happened in Paris," said Sarah Moser, UND professor of French, who helped curate the exhibit and translate the text to English.

During his prolific career, Daumier created more than 4,000 lithographs, 550 paintings and 100 sculptures, Jones said.

His illustrations appeared in two radical newspapers in Paris. There, he drew cartoons that oftentimes targeted political and social issues of his day and many times ridiculed the political elite.

Daumier was briefly imprisoned early in his life for depicting King Louis Philippe as the gluttonous "Gargantula."

The exhibit highlights similar themes between what Daumier drew and artwork from Charlie Hebdo, including similar clown-like images drawn by both Daumier and Charbonnier.

"These are issues that are still important to consider in today's world," Jones said. "Daumier was imprisoned for similar depictions to work done at Charlie Hebdo."


Daumier's impact has had a lasting impact on today's world, outside of the world of newspapers, Moser said.

"It's hard to appreciate how far-reaching work like this is," Moser said. "Even things such as 'South Park' have been influenced by Daumier's work."

The design of the exhibit follows the format of a newspaper similar to that of the Grand Forks Herald, with works by Daumier placed in different sections, much like a newspaper, A through D. Cartoons range from headline features to arts and leisure to the sports page.

Jones said he's never seen an art exhibit set up as a newspaper like this one. He said that unique feel gives viewers a more fun way to look at the artwork.

"This way, you're able to see how wide-ranging his interests went," Jones said.

The show is part two of a trilogy of Daumier exhibits put on by the UND Art Collections. The third show will be exhibited next year.

Jones had previously purchased the Daumier lithographs through two art dealers in New York City with money given to UND from the Myers Foundation.

The Florida-based foundation has given funds to to the university to build its art collection for us in research, teaching and community outreach, Jones said.


Also included in the exhibit are works found from a donation after a previous UND Art Collections exhibit, "Lost, Found and Rescued," which told the story of the university's art collection, which - until recently - was often seriously neglected. After an article on the Herald about the exhibit, a man came forward with some art he had, and four of the pieces are included in the current exhibition.

The artwork is on display at the Empire Arts Center through July 14. The gallery is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Former Herald cartoonist’s work featured in UND exhibit

One of Grand Forks’ own is featured in the UND Art Collections’ latest exhibit.

Former Grand Forks Herald Sunday editorial cartoonist Stuart McDonald’s work is included in the exhibit “Honore Daumier: Encore! The Quest for Freedom of Expression through Political and Social Commentary.”

From 1961 through 1967, McDonald was North Dakota’s only regularly published editorial cartoonist. He received three George Washington Honor Medals from the Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge for his cartoon work at the Herald.

His art covered a range of local, state, national and international issues, ranging from the Vietnam War to Grand Forks political issues.

On display at the Empire are several of McDonald’s cartoons, displayed to show how they mirror some of Daumier’s work a century earlier.


“I wanted to find somebody local to include in the exhibition in order to show people here that Daumier and the issues at hand are relevant to us,” said Arthur Jones, exhibit curator. “With this work, you’re able to see that political satire like Daumier’s has even reached Grand Forks.”

McDonald was a 1949 graduate of Central High School and attended UND for two years before joining the United States Air Force in 1951. Following his service, he returned to Grand Forks and became vice president of McDonald Clothing Company.

Following his tenure at the Herald, McDonald served two terms as a Republican in the North Dakota House of Representatives.

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