Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Charting a tempestous time ......... the cartoons of David Low 1945-53

Low Visibility, 1953
A political cartoon has a short life.

What was relevant, funny and to the point will quickly become quite incomprehensible and unless you have the historical knowledge to unlock it, the  message will just be an image with no meaning.

Now I was reminded of this when I came back across a copy of Low Visibility which is a collection of cartons produced by David Low between 1945 and 1953.

The book contains 149 cartoons mainly focusing on foreign affairs and covering everything from the immediate post war period to the growing tensions between the Soviet Union and the West and taking in conflicts in the Middle East, and the Far East as well as Britain’s response  to the demands for colonial independence.

Some are completely lost to me and will only offer up their message through serious research.

The Verdict, October 1 1946
Others I do understand even if the subtle nuisances of what was being said are still vague and a few leap out of the page and make complete sense.

Of these last few the ones on the future of a defeated Germany and plight of the millions of displaced people leap off the page, as does the powerful comment on the Nuremberg Trials.

Verdict was published on October 1 1946 after the Nazi leadership had been found guilty and sentenced to be hanged, and while today it might be difficult to identify each of the condemned men their bowed heads in front of those they murdered is a powerful comment now as it was back them.

Pictures; cover from Low Visibility, 1953 and Verdict, 1946

* Low Visibility A Cartoon History, 1945-53, David Low, 1953

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