Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Jesters in Earnest: Czech Political Cartoons in WW2

In 1944, the Czechoslovak Institute in London, together with the Czech newspaper for exiles in Britain presented an exhibition of the work of Czech political cartoonists. They published this book with John Murray to commemorate the show. The exhibition and the book contain the work of five political cartoonists all in exile in either the UK or the US during the war and they are striking and powerful images. It is entirely accidental that the images I chose to scan here are from two artists only, simply a matter of what appealed to me: Adolf Hoffmeister and Antonin Pelc. The two were friends and were living and working in the US when the exhibition was put together. Both left Prage in the face of the Nazi occupation and Hoffmeister published a humorous and illustrated account of his wanderings between Prague and New York published in the US as The Animals are in Cages and in the UK by The Bodley Head as Unwilling Tourist. In 1937 both Hoffmeister and Pelc put together an exhibition of their cartoons in Prague but it was so vehemently anti-Nazi that the German minister in Prague complained on behalf of Hitler and the exhibition was closed. Once they reached the US, of course, it was easier to exhibit and together, the year before this British show, they held an exhibition at MOMA in New York which then went on a tour of the US. 

The cover of the book is very effectively decorated by another Hoffmeister cartoon from the book titled, 'The Red Death'.

1 comment:

Earnest Painter said...

And, how far have we come, really?

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