NEW ORLEANS – A special exhibit examining the work of artist and political cartoonist Arthur Szyk will be on public display at The National WWII Museum starting Sept. 2. In Real Times. Arthur Szyk: Art & Human Rights will showcase more than 50 of Szyk’s original works, which focus on humanitarian issues that the world faced in the early 20th century—including many that remain relevant today.
Born into a middle-class Jewish family in turn-of-the-century Poland, Szyk (pronounced “Shick”) led a life shaped by two world wars and dominated by the collapse of democracies and rise of totalitarianism in Europe. Szyk was a refugee who settled in the United States in 1940. As an artist, he became renowned for his caricatures and political cartoons, through which he displayed a broad concern for human rights. The artist fearlessly ridiculed dictators, exposed Nazi genocide, supported the Polish resistance and criticized the Ku Klux Klan and civil rights violations in America. Many of his works appeared on the covers of America’s most popular magazines during World War II. His artwork paired his commentary on human rights issues with motifs drawn from religion, history, politics and culture.
In Real Times. Arthur Szyk: Art & Human Rights is organized by The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life at the University of California, Berkeley. The acquisition of the Taube Family Arthur Szyk Collection (2017) and research for this exhibition were made possible by a generous gift from Taube Philanthropies, which allowed The Magnes to secure 450 artworks as well as books, newspapers, magazines and other publications that featured his art.
In Real Times. Arthur Szyk: Art & Human Rights will be unveiled at an opening reception on Sept. 1 at 5:30 p.m., and the exhibit will be on display in the Joe W. and Dorothy D. Brown Foundation Special Exhibit Gallery in Louisiana Memorial Pavilion through May 7, 2023. Prof. Francesco Spagnolo, Curator of The Magnes Collection for Jewish Art and Life, will introduce the exhibit at the opening reception. The special exhibition is presented in New Orleans by Taube Philanthropies, with additional support from George Marcus and the Isermann Foundation.
“The National WWII Museum, in its mission to explore the American experience in World War II, is the perfect venue to host this traveling exhibition from The Magnes at UC Berkeley,” said Tad Taube, chairman of Taube Philanthropies. “Szyk’s anti-Nazi satires, which appeared on the covers of America’s popular press, helped motivate the U.S. to join the Allies’ war effort. Now, The National WWII Museum will generate new interest in Szyk’s art and convictions. The villains and heroes of Szyk’s day, which he depicted, speak directly to the humanitarian crises the world is experiencing today. His mission to denounce dictators and their abominable acts remains relevant to new generations.”
Original works from the collection will be displayed in the exhibit, which will be organized into six thematic sections focused on various aspects of human rights: Human Rights and Their Collapse, The Rights of Global Refugees, The Right to Resist, The Rights of Nationhood, The Right to Expose: Executioners at Work and The Right to America. Szyk’s artwork stands as a reminder of the atrocities the world faced in the early 20th century, and it also speaks to current humanitarian crises.
“We’re truly excited to welcome this important exhibit to our campus in New Orleans,” said Erin Clancey, Associate Vice President of Collections & Exhibits at The National WWII Museum. “Examining the work of artist, immigrant and humanitarian Arthur Szyk fits beautifully into our mission to explore the relevance of World War II to the present day.”
The full collection has been digitized, and visitors will have the opportunity to explore Szyk’s miniatures in high resolution on a monitor within the exhibit. At an interactive workstation, they will be encouraged to create new cartoons by repurposing elements of the pieces within the collection and instantly publish them online—in real time.
The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American experience in the war that changed the world — why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today — so that all generations will understand the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn. Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and now designated by Congress as America’s National WWII Museum, the institution celebrates the American spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifices of the men and women who fought on the battlefront and served on the Home Front. For more information on Tripadvisor’s #1 New Orleans attraction, call 877-813-3329 or 504-528-1944, or visit nationalww2museum.org.