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In Real


Art &
1926 1951


University of California, Berkeley
The acquisition of the Taube Family Arthur Szyk Collection orn into a middle-class Polish Jewish fam-
(2017) and research for this exhibition were made possible ily, Arthur Szyk (Łódź, Poland, 1894 – New
by a generous gift from Taube Philanthropies. Canaan, Connecticut, 1951) lived a life framed
Major funding for The Magnes Collection comes from
by two world wars, the collapse of European democ-
Karen and Franklin Dabby, the Walter & Elise Haas Fund, racies, and the rise of totalitarianism. A refugee,
the Helzel Family Foundation, the Koret Foundation, he ultimately settled in the United States in 1940.
Peachy and Mark (z”l) Levy, the Magnes Leadership Circle, Throughout his work as a miniature artist and polit-
the Magnes Museum Foundation, the Office of the Chan- ical caricaturist, he used motifs drawn from religion,
cellor at the University of California, Berkeley, Barbro and history, politics, and culture, pairing extraordinary
Bernard Osher, and Taube Philanthropies. craftsmanship with searing commentary on a diverse
range of subjects including Judaism, the American
Additional research was supported, in part, by the Under-
Revolution, the Second World War, the Holocaust,
graduate Research Apprentice Program (URAP) of the
University of California, Berkeley. The Curators also
and the founding of the State of Israel.
extend their gratitude to the scholars who participated
in the program, Around Arthur Szyk, held at The Magnes in Broad concerns for human rights are woven into
2018-2019: Professors Deena Aranoff (Center for Jewish Szyk’s entire production. In paintings and political
Studies, Graduate Theological Union), John Connelly cartoons, the artist exposed the Nazi genocide, sup-
(History, UC Berkeley), and Isabel Richter (DAAD Profes- ported the Polish resistance, exalted the establish-
sor, German and History, UC Berkeley). ment of the United Nations, and ridiculed dictators
of all stripes. His unwavering denunciation of Fascist
crimes in Europe, the suppression of national rights
worldwide, and the endless violations of civil rights
Exhibition Team
in America, are rooted in the experience of margin-
curators alization that characterized Jewish life in Eastern
Francesco Spagnolo and Shir Gal Kochavi Europe in modern times. In our times, these concerns
are still resounding strongly.
faculty advisor
Greg Niemeyer (Art Practice)
Szyk’s modular aesthetics are deeply connected
undergraduate curatorial assistants with the political scope of his art. Medieval and
Tamara Berkover, Isaac Engelberg, Shirin Sadjapour, Renaissance techniques, multilingual literary
Camille Thomas, Anna Tseselsky, Catherine Yang quotations, witty visual allegories, as well as
(UC Berkeley, URAP), Louis Polcin (Willamette University), modernist depictions of technology regularly recur
Jesse Noily (Oberlin College) in his works, and are often paired with enticing
visiting graduate curatorial assistant
decorative themes that have made his oeuvre both
Jessica Rosenberg (Harvard Divinity School) popular and successful during, and well after, the
span of the artist’s life.
Julie Franklin This exhibition showcases over fifty original works
exhibition specialist
of art from the Taube Family Arthur Szyk Collection,
Ernest Jolly acquired by The Magnes in 2017. It also includes two
interactive workstations. Visitors can explore Szyk’s
exhibition design miniatures in high resolution, reconstructing the art-
Gavin Lee, Azi Rad, Ellen Woodson, Gina Borg ist’s gaze through a “digital magnifying glass,” and
are encouraged to remix and repurpose individual
elements, characters, and motifs drawn from the
Exhibition Resources Collection, and create new cartoons. This work is
projected on large wall surfaces within the gallery
To read and download the digital catalog of this exhibition itself, and can be instantly published online, giving
and to access additional resources about Arthur Szyk, the contemporary exploration and reinterpretation
please visit
of Szyk’s art a broad audience “in real time.”

—Francesco Spagnolo
Human Rights,
and their Collapse

In the 1920s, Arthur Szyk lived between his native ₁. Tadeusz Kościuszko (The Glorious Days
Poland and France, where he was developing as an of the Polish American Fraternity)

artist. At the same time, his gaze was already set London, 1938
beyond Europe. Watercolor and gouache on paper | 2017.5.1.37

A Polish-Lithuanian military leader and national hero,

Along with the publication of an illustrated version of
Tadeusz Kościuszko (1746-1817) fought in the Continental
The Statute of Kalisz (1928), a charter of Jewish liber- Army during the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783).
ties issued in Poland in the 13th century, he focused Szyk portrayed Kościuszko holding his will, addressed to
on the American Revolution, creating portraits devot- Thomas Jefferson. In the document, Kościuszko authorized
Jefferson to use his resources to give African-American slaves
ed to its protagonists and key events. The series,
their “liberty in my name... teaching them to be defenders
titled Washington and His Times, was displayed at of their liberty and country, of the good order of society, and
the Paris Colonial Exposition in 1931. Later, Szyk con- in whatsoever may make them happy and useful.”
tinued to return to this theme. In 1938 he created a
new series, The Glorious Days of the Polish American
Fraternity, commissioned by the Polish government
for the New York World’s Fair. In his last years, he
focused on Thomas Jefferson’s political legacy.

Overarching concerns about the dangers of tyranny,

totalitarianism, and human rights violations often
recur in Szyk’s entire opus, culminating in his high- “Much of what we think of today
as post-World War II international
ly publicized denunciations of the Holocaust. Soon
human rights began life as a
after the news of Nazi massacres spread beyond specifically Jewish pursuit of
Eastern Europe, the artist associated himself with minority rights in the ravaged
a host of Jewish political activists and created new borderlands of post-World War I
Eastern Europe.”
artwork supporting a demand for direct action from
the Allied Forces, especially the US government. James Loeffler, Rooted Cosmopolitans (2018)

2 3
“Friday, June 26 [1942] ...
This morning, the English radio
broadcast about the fate of Polish
Jewry… For long months we had been
suffering because the world was
deaf and dumb to our unparalleled
tragedy… But now it seems that all
our interventions have finally
achieved their purpose.”
Emmanuel Ringelblum,
Notes from the Warsaw Ghetto (1958)

₃. Ballad of the Doomed Jews of Europe

[by Ben Hecht (1893-1946)]

New York, March 1943

Ink and graphite on board | 2017.5.1.110

In the wake of news reporting the mass extermination of

Jews in Eastern Europe (by BBC Radio in June of 1942, and by
the Washington Post and other print outlets in November of the
same year), Hollywood screenwriter Ben Hecht (1893-1964)
wrote an article exposing Nazi crimes that was eventually
₂. T
 homas Jefferson’s Oath excerpted in Readers’ Digest, thus reaching a wide readership.
Hecht also co-authored We Will Never Die, a dramatic pageant
New Canaan, Conn., 1951 staged as part of a sold-out rally that took place in Madison
Watercolor, gouache, ink, and Square Garden (March 9, 1943), raising the awareness of Nazi
colored pencil on board | 2017.5.1.224 crimes among Americans. The rally had been planned by the
“Committee for a Jewish Army of Stateless and Palestinian
In a letter to Benjamin Rush (September Jews,” one of several organizations created on behalf of the
3, 1800), Thomas Jefferson pronounced Revisionist Zionist movement by the activist Peter H. Bergson
an unwavering oath against tyranny. (born Hillel Kook, 1915-2001). Szyk created the cover art for the
In illustrating Jefferson’s words, Szyk pageant, and also illustrated a poem by Hecht, titled Ballad
allegorically connected them to the of the Doomed Jews of Europe, for a Zionist magazine (The
Korean War (1950-1953). At the bottom Answer, April 1943). Szyk’s illustrations dramatically depicted
of the painting, an American soldier an emergency telephone call made from Europe to the United
embodies a modern-day Saint George Nations going unanswered. The poem also appeared in The
slaying a Korean dragon possessed New York Times, in an ad purchased by Bergson’s Committee
by snakes. (September 1943).

4 5
The Rights of
Global Refugees

The start of the Second World War coincided with

the partition of Poland between Nazi Germany and
the Soviet Union. This, along with subsequent inva-
sions of European territories by the German army,
turned many into refugees, including Arthur Szyk
himself and his immediate family. Running for their
lives, scores of individuals and families found them-
selves victims of the lack of legal status granted by
nationhood. Szyk depicted the plight of refugees in
many different contexts, from the illustration of bib-
lical narratives (the Book of Ruth) to the portrayal
of citizens of Poland and veterans of its disband-
ed army, and of Jews, adults and children alike.
At the end of the war, he continued to denounce
₄. De Profundis. Cain, Where is
the loss of human rights experienced by refugees,
Abel Thy Brother?
and the system of quotas regulating the entry of
New York, 1943 Jewish Holocaust survivors into the United States
Ink and graphite on board | 2017.5.1.109
and British Mandatory Palestine.
A visual meditation on the massacre of Jews during the
Second World War, featuring motifs drawn from classi-
cal Jewish and Christian texts. The Latin title, De Profundis
(“out of the depths,” Ps. 130), written at the top, is followed
by a question in English: “Cain, where is Abel thy brother?”
(Genesis 4:9). Within the words of the title are visual and tex-
tual quotations from both the Hebrew Bible and the Gospels.
Jewish victims are depicted as piles of bodies, which prom-
inently feature Jesus holding the Tablets listing the Ten
Commandments in Hebrew, and men, women, and children
dressed in both secular and religious garments. The drawing
was first published in the Chicago Sun in February of 1943.
“Contemporary history has
created a new kind of human
beings—the kind that are put in
concentration camps by their
foes and in internment camps
by their friends.”

Hannah Arendt, “We Refugees”

(Menorah Journal, January 1943)

6 7
₁. Untitled [Polish
Soldier and Peasant]

London, 1940
Watercolor and gouache
on paper | 2017.5.1.48

₂. Bella Reine. Premier & dernier costume ₃. To Be Shot, as ₄. (The Jewish Plot to
(Bella Reine. First and Last Costume) Dangerous Enemies Survive) “I just tell the
of the Third Reich! Americans that they are
New York, 1945 communists, and to the
Watercolor and ink on paper | 2017.5.1.151 New York, 1943 Russians that they are
Ink and graphite on fascists...”
Costume designed for an unidentified play featuring the paper | 2017.5.1.114
Lithuanian Jewish dancer and performer Bella Reine New Canaan, Conn., 1948
(1897-1983), active in France since the 1920s and a refugee Watercolor, gouache, ink,
in New York City during the Second World War. Rather and graphite on board
than an exotic travel destination, the suitcase held by the 2017.5.1.196
actress is labeled “Vittel,” in reference to an internment
camp for enemy aliens, including Jews, established in
north-east France in 1941 by the German occupying forces.

8 9 9

₁. “And the name of the man ₂. U

 ntitled [Three ₄. Untitled [“Love for Man Szyk added himself, wearing
was Elimelech, and the Jewish children] and Nature has been a military uniform and
name of his wife Naomi, My Guide”] holding an artist’s palette
and the name of his two New York, 1944 and brushes.
sons Mahlon & Chilion” Ink and graphite on Ottawa, 1940
Ruth. Chapter I paper | 2017.5.1.128 Watercolor and
gouache on paper ₅. Untitled [Portrait of
New Canaan, Conn., 1946 2017.5.1.50 Julia Likerman Szyk,
Watercolor and gouache Wife of the Artist]
on board | 2017.5.1.177 In 1940, Szyk and his family
reached Canada as refugees. Paris, 1926
Later that year, they settled Watercolor, gouache,
in the United States. The and graphite on
artist composed an ode to paper | 2017.5.1.25
Canada and its peoples,
acknowledging their role in
the war effort. Among the
characters in the painting,

10 11
The Right
to Resist

The Warsaw Ghetto uprising broke out on April 19,

and continued until May 16, 1943, when the German
troops left the ghetto in ruins and deported the last
survivors. Jewish resistance organizations involved
in the uprising spanned the entire spectrum of polit-
ical activism in the ghetto. They included the left-
wing Zionist Jewish Combat Organization (Zydowska
Organizacja Bojowa, or ZOB) and the Jewish Military
Union (Zydowski Zwiazek Wojskowy, or ZZW), which
was led by members of Betar, the youth group of the
Revisionist Zionist movement, with logistical sup-
port provided by the Home Army (Armia Krajowa,
or AK), one of the national resistance groups estab-
lished in Poland in 1940. In his depictions of the
uprising, Arthur Szyk portrayed some of its military
leaders, including Mordecai Anielewicz (1919-1943;
ZOB) and Dawid Wdowiński (1895-1970; ZZW).

“On April 19th, 1943, at 2 am, the ₁. D

 efenders of Warsaw
first messages concerning the
Germans’ approach arrived from London, 1939
outermost observation posts... At Watercolor, gouache, ink,
7 o’clock... the SS-men... marched and graphite on paper
into the seemingly dead streets of 2017.5.1.45
the central ghetto. Their triumph
appeared to be complete… But no,
they did not scare us and we were
not taken by surprise.”

Marek Edelman,
“The Ghetto Fights” (ca. 1988)

12 12 13

₂. N
 arodowi Polskiemu, w Braterstwie Broni Naród
Amerykański (The Polish Nation, the Brotherhood
of American Arms) [King Władysław II Jagiełło
(ca. 1352-1434)]

New York, 1942

Watercolor and gouache on board | 2017.5.1.99

King Władysław II Jagiełło (ca. 1352-1434), who ruled Poland

between 1386-1434, belonged to the Jagiellonian dynasty that
ruled over Poland and Lithuania until 1572, and initiated the
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Szyk painted a portrait
of the King for the series, “Brotherhood in Arms,” dedicated
to the Polish nation. By portraying Jagiełło in 1943, Szyk
allegorically pointed to the role of the Polish-Lithuanian union
(14th-18th centuries) in resisting the Teutonic invasions as an
inspiration for the contemporary Polish resistance against
German influence. The King’s shield is inscribed in Polish
with a quote from The Oath, a poem written in 1908 by Polish
independence activist Maria Konopnicka (1842-1910) against
the policies of the German Empire: “We shall not forsake the
land we came from. We shall not let our speech be buried. We
are the Polish nation, the Polish people. From the royal line of
Piast.” At the King’s feet, an axe crushes a Nazi swastika,
inscribed with the words “The people’s revenge, you will not
escape!!!” In the background, Polish soldiers, embedded with
the French and British Allied troops, are depicted going to
war against Nazi Germany.

₁. To the Gallant Poles, ₂. The Repulsed Attack

in Comradeship (from “The Songs of
of Arms, The People the Ghetto”)
of America
New York, 1943
New York, 1942 Ink and graphite on
Ink and graphite on board | 2017.5.1.113
paper | 2017.5.1.83

14 15

The Rights
of Nationhood

In his oeuvre, Arthur Szyk actively sought to cel-

ebrate nationhood as a means to securing human
rights. In this, he appeared to have internalized
the understanding, emblematically expressed by
political thinker Hannah Arendt (1906-1975), that
individual human beings could enjoy the “right
to have rights” only through the membership in a
political community, which, in the modern era, was
solely represented by nation-states. Szyk’s works
include stamp designs, illustrated Declarations of
Independence, national charters, and designs for
the “corporate identity” of national organizations
ranging from military units to art institutions.

₃. M
 y People. Samson in the Ghetto
(The Battle of the Warsaw Ghetto)

New York, 1945

Watercolor, gouache, ink,
and graphite on board
2017.5.1.129 “Not only did loss of national
rights in all instances entail the loss
of human rights; the restoration
of human rights, as the recent
example of the State of Israel
proves, has been achieved so far
only through the restoration or the
establishment of national rights.”

Hannah Arendt,
The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951)

16 17
Heritage of
the Nations

Kasimir Bileski, a Canadian stamp dealer, commis-

sioned Arthur Szyk in 1945 to create Heritage of the
Nations, a series of new stamp designs celebrating
the members of the newly established United Nations
and its Security Council. Between 1945 and 1951,
Szyk created stamps representing France, Great
Britain, Switzerland, Poland, Canada, the United
States, the USSR, Israel, China, Newfoundland, and
Nova Scotia. These highly allegorical representa-
tions combine historical and present-day references
and symbols. The project remained incomplete due
to the artist’s death in 1951. Bileski continued to
promote and reproduce these works in his philatelist
newsletter until the 1990s.

₁. Poland (Heritage of the Nations series)

New Canaan, Conn., 1946

Watercolor and gouache, pen and ink
and pencil on board | 2017.5.1.182

₂. F
 rance (Heritage of the Nations series)

New Canaan, Conn., 1947

Watercolor and gouache, pen and ink
and pencil on board | 2017.5.1.186

₃. U
 nited Kingdom.
(Heritage of the Nations series)

New Canaan, Conn., 1947

Watercolor and gouache, ink and
graphite on board | 2017.5.1.185

18 19
₅. Canada. (Heritage
of the Nations series)

New Canaan,
Conn., 1946
Watercolor and
gouache, ink and
graphite on board

₆. T
 he United States of
America. (Heritage of
the Nations series)

New York, 1945

Watercolor and
gouache, pen and ink
and pencil on board

₄. Pacte de la Société des Nations avec Annexe ₇. I srael. (Heritage of the

(Covenant of the League of Nations, with Annex) Nations series)

Paris, 1931 New Canaan,

Watercolor, gouache, ink and Conn., 1948
gold illumination on paper Watercolor and
2017.5.1.34 gouache, pen and ink
and pencil on board
In 1931, Arthur Szyk illustrated the title page of the Covenant 2017.5.1.189
of the League of Nations, a worldwide intergovernmental
organization established at the end of the First World War
with the goal of preventing conflict among sovereign states.
The illustrations divide the page in two sections. At the top,
life and peace are granted to refugees, shown gazing at the
headquarters of the League in Geneva, next to a self-portrait
of the artist as a “sign painter.” The lower sections depict
scenes of war, destruction, and reconstruction, including
themes drawn from the Christian tradition, such as Saint
George (or the archangel Michael) slaying a dragon and a
memento mori.

20 21

Icons of
Emblems, heraldry, and the design of “corporate
identity” for organizations and countries are an
important component of Arthur Szyk’s work as an
illustrator. Many of the designs he created eventu- ₃. Z
 achor (Remember).
ally became letterheads, stamps, and logos, and Stamps of Israel (Memorial
were also featured in his artwork. His illustrations Stamp – Europe) First Day
Cover 4
for Poland focused on support for Polish soldiers
fighting in various independence movements; those United States, late 1940s
created for Israel aimed at shaping the public image Ink on paper | 2017.5.1.198

of the nascent State.


₁. Z
 a naszą i waszą wolność. ₂. L
 egion Kośiuszkowski. ₄. J
 erusalem World
(For Our Freedom and Kościuszko Legion Art Museum
Watercolor and New Canaan, 1949
Watercolor and gouache on paper Ink on paper | 2017.5.1.213
gouache on paper 2017.5.1.158a

22 23
The Right to
Expose: Tyrants
“at Work”

Many of Arthur Szyk’s political cartoons were devot-

ed to exposing the crimes of Adolf Hitler, his asso-
ciates, and their allies. Created to achieve a great
impact through the printing press in Europe and the
United States, these drawings display a harrowing
tension between tragedy and farce. Individuals are
often portrayed with emphasized facial and bodily
traits, and groups are carefully choreographed to
expose inner power dynamics, political proclivities,
and petty idiosyncrasies. To the historian, these
portraits point to specific events in the development
of the Third Reich, and the long-range effects of its
crimes. To the general public, they offer a gallery
of historical characters portrayed with a blend of
intimacy and satire.

Adolf Hitler is the undisputed archvillain of Szyk’s

₁. Polsce, Chrystusowi ₂. S
 chiklgruber. Perviy
pictorial imagination. Just as Charlie Chaplin cre-
Narodow (Poland, the Samoderzhets Vserosiskiy.
ated a new character named Adenoid Hynkel (the Christ of Nations). [Adolf (Schicklgruber I, Tsar-
dictator of “Tomania” in the 1940 movie, The Great Hitler, 1889-1945] Autocrat of All Russia).
Dictator), Szyk often referred to the tyrant with the [Adolf Hitler, 1889-1945]
London, 1939
ironic name of Schicklgruber, the surname of Hitler’s Watercolor, gouache, New York, 1941
illegitimately-born father, Alois. At the same time, colored pencil, and ink Ink and graphite on
most of Szyk’s works are also layered with nuanced on paper | 2017.5.1.47 paper | 2017.5.1.67

aesthetic and political messages. They include

Published for The American
sophisticated references to Nazi ideology (such as Mercury, a magazine pub-
its repurposing of the German nationalist concept lished monthly in New York
of Lebensraum, or “living space,” and of Wagnerian City, this cartoon refers to
“Operation Barbarossa,” the
myths), to the inner politics of European Fascist
Axis invasion of the Soviet
regimes, and to their global impact, from North Union that began in June
Africa to Latin America. of 1941.

24 25
“Half-way through making
The Great Dictator I began receiving
alarming messages… that I would
run into censorship trouble...
But I was determined to go ahead,
for Hitler must be laughed at.”
Charlie Chaplin, My Autobiography (1964)

₃. “ I Don’t Wont [sic] To Be ₄. B

 enito the Terrific. ₅. N
 otre “Ami Pierrot” (Ma
Misunderstood, But I [Benito Mussolini, chandelle est morte,
Invest My Money In U.S. 1883-1945] je n’ai plus de feu...) (Our
War Bonds...” [Hermann “Friend Pierrot.” My Candle
Göring, 1893-1946] New York, 1942 is Dead, I Have No More
Ink and graphite on Fire...). [Philippe Pétain,
New York, 1942 paper | 2017.5.1.82 1856-1951]
Ink and graphite on
paper | 2017.5.1.92 A satirical depiction of New York, 1941
Italian dictator Benito Ink and gouache on
Hermann Göring (1893- Mussolini (1883-1945), board | 2017.5.1.59
1946), a decorated veteran dedicated to Virginio Gayda
fighter pilot in the First (1885-1944), a journalist Portrait of Philippe Pétain
World War, was one of and heterodox supporter of (1856-1951), Chief of State
the most prominent lead- Fascism, an anti-Semite, of the Nazi collaborationist
ers of the Nazi party in and a vocal critic of Italy’s government of Vichy France,
Germany. He created the involvement in the Second as a modern version of the
Gestapo (Nazi Germany’s World War. comedic character and sad
secret police), was the clown Pierrot, quoting the
commander in chief of the famous French 18th-century
German airforce, and led folk song, Au clair de la lune.
the Four Year Plan that sup-
ported the Nazi war econ-
omy. After being sentenced
to death in the Nuremberg
trials, he committed

26 27
₁. “ Lebensraum”... Le Future de l’Europe tel
qu’ils le voient… (“Living Space”... The Future
of Europe as They See It). [Adolf Hitler,
1889-1945, and Joseph Stalin, 1878-1953]

London, 1939
Watercolor, gouache, ink, and graphite on paper

Exhibited at the Fine Art Society, London (January, 1940).

₂. The Silent Partner. “In this game, Adolph [sic],

two aces is more than three kings.”

New York, September 1941

Watercolor, gouache, ink, and pencil on paper

Cartoon published on the cover of Collier’s, depicting a poker

game played by Adolf Hitler (1889-1945), a soldier wearing
a Red Army uniform, and a skeleton dressed in a German
general’s uniform. Hitler is holding three Kings (each depicting
Benito Mussolini/Italy, Philippe Pétain/France, and Hirohito/
Japan), while his opponent holds two Aces (representing the
United States and the United Kingdom). Seven puppets are
tied to Hitler’s pants, representing Miklós Horthy (1868-1957,
Hungary), Carl Mannerheim (1867-1951, Finland), Hirohito
(1901-1989, Japan), Benito Mussolini (1883-1945, Italy),
Philippe Pétain (1856-1951, Vichy France), and Francisco
Franco (1892-1975, Spain).

₃.  Madness

New York, September 1941

Watercolor, gouache, ink, and graphite on paper

In this cartoon, published on the cover of Collier’s, Nazi

leaders Adolf Hitler (1889-1945), Hermann Göring (1893-1946),
Heinrich Himmler (1900-1945) and Joseph Goebbels (1897-
1945) stand together, pinning Nazi flags on a globe threatened
by a Nazi rattlesnake. At their feet lay collaborators Philippe
Pétain (1856-1951) and Benito Mussolini (1883-1945). The
scene is complemented by literary quotations ranging from
Dante’s Inferno to a German folk song that became the
anthem of the Hitler Youth movement.

“Had I known of the actual horrors

of the German concentration
camps, I could not have made The
Great Dictator, I could not have
made fun of the homicidal insanity
of the Nazis.”

Charlie Chaplin, My Autobiography (1964)

28 29
₄. T
 he New Orderlies

New York, 1941

Watercolor and gouache on paper | 2017.5.1.57

In this cartoon, published in Esquire in 1942, Nazi leader

Heinrich Himmler (1900-1945) is portrayed along with an army
made of representatives of the Axis powers and their collab-
orators. From left to right: Italy (Benito Mussolini, 1883-1945),
Japan (Hirohito, 1901-1989), Spain (possibly Sancho Dávila,
1905-1972), Vichy France (Philippe Pétain, 1856-1951), Belgium
(Léon Degrelle, 1906-1994), Finland (possibly Simo Häyhä,
1895-2002), Hungary, and Romania.

₅. Walhalla G.m.b.H. (The Niebelungen, Valhalla).

(Valhalla, Inc.)

New York, 1942

Ink and graphite on paper | 2017.5.1.93

Inspired by the opera series The Ring of the Nibelung, by

Richard Wagner (1813-1883), this cartoon originally appeared
in Cosmopolitan in 1943. The scene, presented as a banquet
hosted by Wotan, the King of the Gods in Wagner’s mythol-
ogy, features historical figures who both preceded and ani-
mated the Nazi regime. Among those seated at the table are
the Prussian statesman Otto Von Bismarck (1815-1898), and
Wilhelm II (1859-1941), the last German Emperor. Nazi lead-
ers Adolf Hitler (1889-1945), Hermann Göring (1893-1946),
and Joseph Goebbels (1897-1945) act as waiters, assisted by
Italian dictator Benito Mussolini (1883-1945), while the French
collaborationist Philippe Pétain (1856-1951) is in the kitchen.
Skulls, and a copy of a book by Jewish writer Heinrich Heine
(1797-1856) are on the floor, along with a Jewish man turned
into a bear-skin rug, while the new literary “classics” of Nazi
culture (Hitler’s Mein Kampf, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion,
Arthur de Gobineau’s An Essay on the Inequality of the Human
Races, and others) are on a bookshelf next to the dining table.
The “soundtrack” at the bottom features Leitmotiven (recur-
rent musical themes) drawn from Wagner’s works.

₆. The Key to French Africa

New York, 1942

Watercolor and gouache on paper | 2017.5.1.98

A cartoon providing political commentary on the role of

European Fascist powers in North Africa, published in Szyk’s
anthology, Ink and Blood (1946). It features Adolf Hitler (1889-
1945), surrounded by Benito Mussolini (1883-1945), Japan’s
Prime Minister Hideki Tojo (1884-1948), Heinrich Himmler
(1900-1945), and Vichy France’s Philippe Pétain (1856-1951)
and Pierre Laval (1883-1945).

30 31

₇. Libertad (Freedom) ₁. G
 oeringo Il Magnifico (Göring the Magnificent).
[Hermann Göring, 1893-1946]
New York, 1944
Ink and graphite on paper | 2017.5.1.126b New York, 1941
Watercolor, gouache, and ink on paper | 2017.5.1.75
In the 1930s, Szyk conceived a series of drawings celebrating
Latin American independence leader Simón Bolívar (1783-
1830) entitled The Epic of Simon Bolivar. In 1944 in a cartoon ₂. W
 e’re running short of Jews. [Adolf Hitler, 1889-1945,
published in the dailies PM (New York) and El Nacional Heinrich Himmler, 1900-1945, Hermann Göring, 1893-1946,
(Caracas, Venezuela), Szyk depicted Bolivar’s legacy under and Joseph Goebbels, 1897-1945]
the threat of European and Latin American Fascist dictators,
including Adolf Hitler (1889-1945), Francisco Franco (1892- One of Szyk’s many works denouncing the Nazi geno-
1975), and Argentinian Presidents Pedro Pablo Ramírez cidal project (in 1943, the victim count was estimated at
(1884-1962) and Juan Perón (1895-1974). two million) was dedicated to the tragic loss of the art-
ist’s mother: “To the memory of my darling mother mur-
dered by the Germans somewhere in the Ghettos of
₈. “I Need Peace Now!! I must prepare for the third round...” Poland.” A later work (Pathways to the Bible, 1946), was
again dedicated to Szyk’s mother, this time listing the
New York, 1944 extermination camp of Majdanek as her place of death.
Watercolor and gouache on paper | 2017.5.1.121
New York, 1943
Germania, a 19th-century personification of the German Ink and graphite on paper | 2017.5.1.115
nation, is seated in frustration as Nazi war plans appear to
go awry at the hands of Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) and his
associates Joseph Goebbels (1897-1945), Hermann Göring
(1893-1946), and Heinrich Himmler (1900-1945).

32 33
₄. ( The Modern Hamlet) ₅. T
 he German “Authority” ₆a. T
 he Silent Partner. ₆b. From Arthur Szyk
Aryan or Non Aryan - in Poland “In this game, Adolph [sic], [Letter to Collier’s
That is the question. Two Aces is More Than readers]
[Joseph Goebbels, London, 1939 Three Kings.”
1897-1945] Ink and graphite on Collier’s, New York,
paper | 2017.5.1.41 Collier’s (front cover) November 1, 1941
New York, 1941 New York, Offset lithograph
Ink and graphite on November 1, 1941 Arthur Szyk papers,
paper | 2017.5.1.64 Offset lithograph photographs and
2017.5.4.2 memorabilia
2017.5 AR1

34 35
The Right
to America

Political cartoons created by Arthur Szyk during

the Second World War often took aim at the “racial
theories” of the Third Reich. The artist highlighted
the multi-ethnic fabric of the US Army, positioning
it in direct contrast to Nazi Aryan supremacy. Szyk
displayed a similar uncompromising attitude towards
the politics of race in America, taking aim at the Ku
Klux Klan and the legacy of slavery. During the last
years of his life, he also created stamp designs for
the Republic of Liberia, a country founded in mid-
19th-century through the efforts of the Society for
the Colonization of Free People of Color of America.

₁. U
 ntitled. [Poster de- ₂. R
 acial Humiliation ₃. D
 o not forgive them, oh Lord, for they do know,
sign for the New York what they do! [after Luke 23:34]
New York, 1944
State’s Committee
Ink and graphite on New Canaan, Conn., 1949
on Discrimination in
paper | 2017.5.1.127 Ink and graphite on paper | 2017.5.1.214

New York, 1943 Published in the Sunday Compass (New York).

Ink and graphite on
board | 2017.5.1.108

36 37

For the Republic

of Liberia

In 1950, Franklin R. Bruns (1912-1979), a philatelic

adviser and curator at the Smithsonian Institute,
commissioned the design of a series of stamps for
the Republic of Liberia from Arthur Szyk. The project
was completed after Szyk’s death in 1951. Several of
Szyk’s works explicitly reference the involvement of
Jehudi Ashmun (1794-1828), a religious leader from
New York, in the founding of the colony of Liberia
(1822). Ashman was a member of The Society of
the Colonization of Free People of Color of America
(established in 1816 to support the migration of free
African Americans to Africa). Between the years
1822-1828 he served as governor of the Republic of
Liberia on behalf of the United States.

₄. Untitled. [Floral border for “The Case

for the Minorities,” by Wendell Willkie]

New York, ca. 1942

Ink and graphite on paper | 2017.5.1.304

Wendell Willkie (1892-1944) was a lawyer, an

opponent of the Ku Klux Klan, and the 1940
Republican nominee for President. Willkie’s text
was originally published under the title “The Case
for the Minorities” in The Saturday Evening Post
(1942), in response to a widely criticized article
by Milton Mayer (“The Case Against the Jews”).

₁. R
 epublic of Liberia (souvenir sheet)

New Canaan, Conn., 1950

Ink and graphite on paper | 2017.5.1.217a

38 39
₂. Harry L. Peckmore & Son

Liberia Souvenir Sheet with

Eight Republic of Liberia Stamps

New York, 1948-1953

Offset lithograph on paper with
gum arabic adhesive | 2017.

₃. L
 iberia (Air mail postal stamp)

New Canaan, Conn., 1950

Watercolor, gouache, and
graphite on board | 2017.5.1.216

The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life
University of California, Berkeley


January 28 - May 29
September 1 - December 18, 2020

Galleries open Tue–Fri 11am–4pm

Arthur Szyk (1894-1951)

Untitled. [Self-portrait, drawing an anti-Nazi cartoon]
New York, 1941 | Ink on paper
Taube Family Arthur Szyk Collection, 2017.5.1.412

Roman Vishniac (1897-1990)

The miniature painter, Arthur Szyk
New York, 1942 | Inkjet print from original negative
Gift of Mara Vishniac Kohn, 2017.12.2

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