United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Introduction The Art and Politics of Arthur Szyk

"An artist, and especially a Jewish artist,...
jewish artist

Examine this artwork
Moses, Aaron, and Hur, 1935; Detail

Wartime Caricaturist
Action - Not Pity
Wartime Caricaturist

Book of Esther: Esther with Scribe, 1950
The Statute of Kalisz: Italian page, 1928
...can not be neutral in these times.
Haman hanging on the gallows, 1950
jewish artist

He can not escape to still lifes, abstractions, and experiments.
Szyk’s artworks and illuminations portrayed the Jews as a heroic nation that had resisted oppression through the ages and eventually triumphed. His Jews were fighters for their own freedom and the freedom of others. Szyk sought to redefine how Jews viewed themselves and how others viewed them. His works thus challenged the notion that Jewish history was merely one long saga of suffering and recast the Jews as assertive actors in shaping their own destiny. Zionism played a crucial role in Arthur Szyk’s art and politics and his artwork glorified biblical heroes as models for the “new Jew.”

Jewish Artist
Wartime Caricaturist
Action - Not Pity
Szyk resources
Wartime Caricaturist

Art that is purely cerebral
dead. Our life
is involved in
terrible tragedy, and I am
resolved to
serve my

with all
my art,
with all
my talent,
with all
my knowledge.
- Arthur Szyk, 1934
Program cover for Uriel Acosta, 1913
Haman outlining his plan to kill the Jews, 1925

Haggadah page dedicated to German and Austrian Jews, 1938

Haggadah page, 1935

Arthur Szyk (left) with Revisionist Zionist leader Vladimir (Ze'ev) Jabotinsky.
[USHMM #25831]
Arthur Szyk (left) with his friend, Revisionist Zionist leader Vladimir (Ze'ev) Jabotinsky.

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