VISALIA – American author Irvin Ungar is coming to Visalia to tell the story of how a renowned 20th century artist put the pen to paper to draw up a rebellion against the Nazis in WWII through his execution of political cartoons.
Ungar is giving a presentation on the art of Arthur Szyk. College of the Sequoias (COS) is hosting the free event at the COS auditorium at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 9. The presentation will highlight Szyk’s work as a political caricaturist and illustrator during World War II.
“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. The issues Szyk addressed through his art remain relevant today,” National WWII Museum’s website stated while describing the Szyk exhibition they hosted.
Szyk, who was a Jewish man, left Poland during WWII to live in the United States in the 1940s, where he became known for his political cartoons that spoke on human rights issues. According to historical accounts, he made use of his artistic skills to fight against the Nazi and Axis powers during the early 20th century.
In particular, he was able to draw attention to the mass murder of European Jews and others who were targeted during WWII through his work. In some of his cartoons, his depictions portray the Axis Powers and Nazi leaders as ruthless conquerors abusing the rest of the world.
Ungar, who is a former pulpit rabbi who is fluent in Jewish history and tradition, is the “world’s foremost expert” on Arthur Szyk’s work, according to Szyk.com. Starting in 1987, he first specialized in Szyk’s illustrated pieces and quickly expanded his repertoire to include original art, fine art prints and other notable Szyk works.
Ungar has written multiple books about Szyk’s work, including “Arthur Szyk: Soldier in Art” (2017 National Jewish Book Award winner), “Justice Illuminated: The Art of Arthur Szyk” (1998) and his most recent book “Arthur Szyk Preserved: Institutional Collections of Original Art” (2023).
Not only has Ungar written books about Szyk’s work, but he co-produced a documentary “Soldier in Art: Arthur Szyk,” as well as served as the curator of The Arthur Szyk Society (1997-2017) and its traveling exhibition program.
Today, Ungar travels to museums and universities around the world, teaching others about the significance of Szyk’s work.