Books in Yiddish: Arthur Szyk (Biography)
by S. L. Shneiderman
Arthur Szyk (Biography)
by S. L. Shneiderman
©1980 by S. L. Shneiderman
I. L. Peretz Publishing House
31, Allenby Str.
Arthur Szyk, the Polish-born
American artist 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."
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."
Shneiderman, a close friend of Szyk, based his biography on years of faithfully
recorded conversations with the artist, Szyk's personal notes and archives, and
the unpublished diaries of his wife Julia. Although an English version was never
published, an English translation was commissioned by Japanese professor Rinjiro
Szyk Society--A group dedicated to "rekindling and sustaining an interest in
the art and messages of Arthur Szyk." The site includes more information about
Szyk, exhibits, and works for sale. The Szyk Society also has access to the
Arthur Szyk Archives.
Judaica-Includes a brief biography of Szyk and images of his print of
the Israeli Declaration of Independence, his History of
Israel coverpage, and a patriotic Polish miniature.
A Handwritten Note from Szyk to Hitler.