The Art of Controversy: Political Cartoons and Their Enduring Power
Victor S. Navasky
A lavishly illustrated, witty, and original look at the awesome power of the political cartoon throughout history to enrage, provoke, and amuse.
As a former editor of The New York Times Magazine and the longtime editor of The Nation, Victor S. Navasky knows just how transformative—and incendiary—cartoons can be. Here Navasky guides readers through some of the greatest cartoons ever created, including those by George Grosz, David Levine, Herblock, Honoré Daumier, and Ralph Steadman. He recounts how cartoonists and caricaturists have been censored, threatened, incarcerated, and even murdered for their art, and asks what makes this art form, too often dismissed as trivial, so uniquely poised to affect our minds and our hearts.
Drawing on his own encounters with would-be censors, interviews with cartoonists, and historical archives from cartoon museums across the globe, Navasky examines the political cartoon as both art and polemic over the centuries. We see afresh images most celebrated for their artistic merit (Picasso's Guernica, Goya's "Duendecitos"), images that provoked outrage (the 2008 Barry Blitt New Yorker cover, which depicted the Obamas as a Muslim and a Black Power militant fist-bumping in the Oval Office), and those that have dictated public discourse (Herblock’s defining portraits of McCarthyism, the Nazi periodical Der Stürmer’s anti-Semitic caricatures). Navasky ties together these and other superlative genre examples to reveal how political cartoons have been not only capturing the zeitgeist throughout history but shaping it as well—and how the most powerful cartoons retain the ability to shock, gall, and inspire long after their creation.
Here Victor S. Navasky brilliantly illuminates the true power of one of our most enduringly vital forms of artistic expression.
few of the protesters saw. 1 I will never forget the hot summer day in 1950 when my friends Jeremy Connolly and Richard “Spike” Goldberg and I presented ourselves in the Fifth Avenue offices of Harry M. Stevens, who controlled the food concessions for all of New York City’s parks (including the ball parks). Our plan was to persuade him that in addition to hot dogs, Cracker Jacks, ice cream, and Cokes, he ought to include watermelon among the products offered, and to hire us to do the selling.
the questions I have left hanging along the way, I don’t underestimate the difficulty of the task. Art Spiegelman, for one, observes that whatever neuroscience says about the brain, “you know that visual grammar doesn’t function the way verbal grammar does. Verbal grammar has all those semicolons and punctuation marks, all calculated to add nuanced qualifications, which are designed to make for a more civilized discourse, whereas the image has none of that.” I have not begun to explore such
figure was only 63 percent. 2 When last heard from, Cenedella was arranging to reprint his illustrated gift edition of The Communist Manifesto, accompanied by a personal affidavit asserting that he is not now and never has been a member of the Communist Party. John Heartfield In the 1960s, Richard C. Neuweiler, a refugee from Chicago’s Second City comedy club, had a routine in which he would wax nostalgic about the good old days when satirists reigned supreme, in the Berlin cabarets of
regarded in the UK as one of the finest political cartoonists of the century, he was a radical, a Socialist, and a passionate opponent of fascism, racism, and, toward the end of his life, nuclear weapons. Vicky, “Introducing: Supermac” (1958) (illustration credit 15.1) On November 6, 1958, he introduced a new character to his readers: Supermac, a takeoff on the Conservative prime minister, Harold Macmillan, dressed as Superman, cloak and all. His drawing was subtitled “How to Try to
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