Originally from Poland, Arthur Szyk (1894-1951) fought for his native country in World War I. In 1919, Szyk published one of his first books of political cartoons, Rewolucja w Niemczech (Revolution in Germany), a satirical book about Germany at the end of World War I. This work is characterized by a style of linear rendering that is very different from his later, highly decorative, illuminations.
Between the wars Szyk witnessed cruel pogroms against Jews in Ukraine, which served as inspiration for his continued concentration on themes relevant to Jews throughout his career. For example, in the Statute of Kalisz, Szyk commemorates the guarantee of certain rights to Polish Jews in the thirteenth century and makes a plea for similar tolerance in interwar Poland. Szyk spent most of World War II in the United States, where he produced anti-Nazi political cartoons for newspapers and periodicals.
Szyk often looked to medieval illuminated manuscripts for inspiration and covered the page with dense colorful imagery and lines, as he did in the Books of Esther and Job.
|1. Arthur Szyk (1894-1951). Le Statut de Kalisz. Paris: Editions de la Table Ronde, 1927.|