ARTHUR SZYK

We are pleased to bring you our reference series on information about 19th & 20th Century Illustrators.  This is provided to better help you know and learn about the artist and how one stroke of the artist brush can change the world.

ARTHUR SZYK ~ szyk

Polish-born American. [June 16, 1894 – September 13, 1951] Graphic artist, book illustrator, stage designer, caricaturist.
Visionary. Activist. Created Mini Illuminations with hidden messages.

” Szyk was a fighter from his childhood in Lodz in 1894, when he was expelled from high school for making anti-czarist sketches. His miniatures frequently expressed his fervent Zionism and Polish pride. He did not just fight through his art either. He fought in the trenches with the Polish army in World War I and joined the anti-semitic white Russian units of the Polish Bolshevik war of 1921 under an assumed name to save Jewish lives from pogroms.

Szyk is most famous in America for the war against Nazi Germany and its allies that he waged with his venomous cartoons that were featured on the covers of Collier’s, Time, and Esquire and were widely popular with soldiers. His efforts prompted Eleanor Roosevelt to declare him a “one man army against Hitler.”

ARTHUR SZYK. Satan Leads the Ball, 1942
ARTHUR SZYK. Satan Leads the Ball, 1942

Syyk found his true calling in the medieval art of miniaturists and illuminators of sacred texts. In his exquisitely detailed miniatures, he depicted the struggle for the rebirth of the Jewish state, the sufferings of the Jews under Nazi occupation, and the heroic resistance in the ghettos. His illuminations of sacred texts include his Hagaddah (1956), which the Times Literary Supplement declared “worthy to be placed among the most beautiful of books that the hand of man has ever produced.” [ed] — SLS

“Arthur Szyk was a great artist. Endowed by God with a rare sensitivity to beauty and with a rare skill in giving it graphic representation, he used his talents to create a series of works of splendor and magnificence that will live forever in the history of art.

szyk1
Moses. From The SZYK Haggadah. 1940

But Arthur Szyk was more than a great artist. He was a great man, a champion of justice, a fearless warrior in the cause of every humanitarian endeavor. His art was his tool and he used it brilliantly.
It was in his hands a weapon of struggle with which he fought for the causes close to his heart. ” –Rabbi Ben Zion Bokser

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