Arthur Szyk’s work spanned illumination, illustration, political caricatures and cartoons, painting, and drawing. His art celebrated liberty, democracy, and peace while denigrating repression, persecution, and tyranny.
Born in Łódź, Poland in 1894, Szyk (pronounced “shik”) studied art there and in France. He lived through monumental world events which, combined with his Jewish faith and his response to specific social situations, formed his approach to his practice. He employed a range of artistic forms including the tradition of sixteenth-century miniature painting and the overt bluntness of political caricature. In Szyk’s words, “Art is not my aim, it is my means.” He sought to inform, cajole, and motivate: sometimes through beauty, and other times through grotesque satire.
Szyk fought for his native Poland in the first World War. In 1940, he emigrated to the United States where, during World War II, he became the leading anti-Nazi artist in America. He actively campaigned for rescuing European Jews during the Holocaust. On September 13, 1951, at the age of 57, Szyk died of a heart attack. More than half a century later, his works testify to his passion and his genius.