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Edmund Valtman: The Cartoonist Who Came in From the Cold


By Government Decree Every Member of the Commune Is Entitled to a Private Lot
By Government Decree Every Member of the Commune Is Entitled to a Private Lot
, 1961
Published in The Hartford Times, March 9, 1961
Ink, tonal overlay on paper
Prints & Photographs Division (1)
LC-USZ62-130421

In 1961, after a period of disastrous weather, Communist China experienced a severe agricultural famine. The government was forced to change its policies, relaxing centralized controls of the agricultural communes and even giving the farmers the right to farm their own plots. Valtman suggests that the only plots that many Chinese will receive will be their own graves. This cartoon was one of the group that Valtman submitted when he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1962.

Valtman portrays Fidel Castro (1926/7- ) towering above small figures who represent Cuba and Brazil. As Castro advises Brazil to have a communist revolution like the one he led, Brazil looks back at the Cuban leader in puzzlement, perhaps pondering the fate of Cuba in rags and chains. Shortages of food and consumer goods were reported in the island nation in late August, 1961, when Valtman made this drawing. At the same time, Brazil was facing the economic challenge of debt and a crisis of leadership when Pres. Jânio Quadros resigned on August 25th. Though Latin American countries that desired social reform initially regarded Castro with sympathy, Valtman seems to suggest that Brazil has come to view his example with skepticism. This drawing was one of the group submitted when Valtman won the Pulitzer Prize in 1962.

"What You Need, Man, Is a Revolution Like Mine!"
"What You Need, Man, Is a Revolution Like Mine!"
, 1961
Published in The Hartford Times, August, 31, 1961; Edmund Valtman, Valtman: The Editorial Cartoons of Edmund S. Valtman, 1961-1991. Baltimore, MD: Esto, Inc., 1991, 7
Ink, tonal overlay on paper
Prints & Photographs Division (31)
LC-USZ62-132677

Viewing with Concern
Viewing with Concern, 1962
Published in The Hartford Times, January 9, 1962
Ink, tonal overlay on paper
Prints & Photographs Division (2)
LC-USZ62-130420

The formation of the European Common Market (composed of France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg) in 1957 brought unprecedented prosperity to those countries. By 1962, 11 additional countries in Western Europe had applied to join. The Soviet Union and its East European satellites held aloof, but Valtman suggests that they may be viewing the development with considerable concern. Here Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev (1894-1971) watches construction while his little dog (who resembles East German leader Walter Ulbricht (1893-1973)) strains at the leash.

Valtman's drawing of somber, huddled figures parodies the intrigue and mystery that surrounded the exchange of Rudolph Ivanovich Abel (1903-1971) and Francis Gary Powers (1929-1977) that took place on February 10, 1962 on the Glienicker Bridge at the border between the U.S. sector of West Berlin and Potsdam, East Germany. Powers was flying a Lockheed U-2 reconnaissance plane inside the Soviet Union when he was shot down in May, 1960. He was subsequently convicted of espionage and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Abel was a Soviet intelligence officer who had been found guilty of espionage in 1957. The "U-2 incident" brought to an abrupt end President Eisenhower's efforts to implement an arms control agreement with the Russians and marked a close to the brief period of detente that had characterized the last years of the 1950s. The subsequent exchange of Powers for Abel did little to improve relations between the two superpowers. Valtman's caption comments ironically on the suggestion that the real way to improve the situation is through increased economic interaction.

Better Relations Through Trade
Better Relations Through Trade, 1962
Published in The Hartford Times, February 14, 1962
Ink, tonal overlay on paper
Prints & Photographs Division (3)
LC-USZ62-130422

This Hurts Me More Than It Hurts You
This Hurts Me More Than It Hurts You,
1962
Published in The Hartford Times, October 30, 1962; Edmund Valtman, Valtman: The Editorial Cartoons of Edmund S. Valtman, 1961-1991. Baltimore, MD: Esto, Inc., 1991, p. 17.
Ink, tonal overlay on paper
Prints & Photographs Division (4)
LC-USZ62-130423

In 1962, the United States discovered that the Soviet Union was installing missiles in Fidel Castro's Cuba. During the ensuing "Cuban Missile Crisis," President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) announced that he was placing a blockade around Cuba to prevent the delivery of any more weapons. Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev (1894-1971) threatened war if Russian ships were stopped but finally backed down and agreed to remove the missiles.

Mao Zedong (1893-1976) inaugurated the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in August, 1966, as a means of restoring the spirit of the Chinese Revolution. Mao's own personality cult took on a religious character during the movement. Valtman parodies this aspect of it by showing Mao as a Buddha-like figure borne under a canopy in a procession. Smiling followers carrying the famed "little red book" (The Thoughts of Chairman Mao) are preceded by figures bearing incense.

The New Religion
The New Religion
, 1966
Published in The Hartford Times, October 13, 1966
Ink, tonal overlay on paper
Prints & Photographs Division (5)
LC-USZ62-130439

"My last employment ? - Vietnam,"
"My last employment ? - Vietnam,"
1971
Published in The Hartford Times, March 10, 1971
Ink, tonal overlay on paper
Prints & Photographs Division (6)
LC-USZ62-130424

As the war wound down in Vietnam, returning veterans found jobs increasingly scarce. Those without skills, those without job experience, and those in minority groups were especially hard pressed to find employment.

In 1972, Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat (1918-1981) decided to realign his country's policies with the West and expelled Soviet military advisers. Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir (1898-1978) took this opportunity to offer peace talks, but Sadat rejected the proposal, calling it propaganda. Still, a beginning had been made, and talks eventually began, culminating in the historic "Camp David" accord signed in 1978.

The Hour Has Come - Let It Not Be Missed
The Hour Has Come - Let It Not Be Missed
, 1972
Published in The Hartford Times, August 1, 1972
Ink, tonal overlay on paper
Prints & Photographs Division (7)
LC-USZ62-130425

The Old Man and the Sea
The Old Man and the Sea
, 1972
Published in The Hartford Times, October 31, 1972
Ink on duotone paper
Prints & Photographs Division (8)
LC-USZ62-130426

In this cartoon, Valtman alludes to Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man in the Sea, which recounts the story of an old Cuban fisherman who catches a giant marlin. Despite his efforts, the fish is largely eaten by sharks before he returns to port with little more than the skeleton. In the 1972 presidential election, Democratic candidate George McGovern (1922- ) hoped to make opposition to the Vietnam War his central issue, but his campaign was undermined by a series of tribulations that included attacks on his inconsistent stands on many issues and the revelation that his Vice Presidential running mate, Thomas Eagleton (1929- ), had been hospitalized on two occasions for psychiatric problems. McGovern subsequently lost by a large margin to incumbent President Richard Nixon (1913-1994).

George McGovern's march to the Democratic nomination for president in 1972 was fueled by an army of campaign workers made up of idealistic and liberal young men and women of all races and ethnic backgrounds. Despite this group's apparent left-leaning agenda, the McGovern campaign leadership refused to include a pro-choice plank in the party platform, fearing that it would make the candidate look too extremist.

But Don't You See? If the Democratic Party Is to Stay Young and Vigorous
But Don't You See? If the Democratic Party Is to Stay Young and Vigorous We Just Had to Drop the Abortion Plank,
1972
Published in The Hartford Times, July 14, 1972.
Ink, tonal overlay on paper
Prints & Photographs Division (9)
LC-USZ62-130427

Don't put up any resistance! Just keep in step
Don't put up any resistance! Just keep in step,
1973
Published in The Hartford Times, April 13, 1973
Ink on duotone paper
Prints & Photographs Division (10)
LC-USZ62-130440

After Richard Nixon won re-election with a huge majority in 1972, he announced an ambitious domestic program that he called the "New American Revolution." To overcome political opposition, he used all the weapons at his disposal to force Congress to accept his plans, including the pocket veto of 11 bills after Congress adjourned in 1972 and the impoundment of funds for programs enacted by Congress. In addition, he extended the principle of executive privilege, refusing to allow members of his staff to testify before Congressional committees, most notably the Watergate Committee chaired by Senator Sam Ervin (1896-1985).

In March, 1976, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee voted 17-16 to send back to subcommittee a bill that would have banned the sale or production of new "concealable" handguns (i.e. pistols less than 8 " in length and revolvers less than 5 3/4" long or with a barrel under 4".) Valtman's image of a smoking gun and fallen figure gives visible form to the words of Rep. Robert F. Drinan (1920- ) who stated on March 2 that the recommittal vote "kills gun control legislation for this session." The vote to recommit came after a weekend of hard lobbying by the National Rifle Association. Valtman suggests that the gun control advocates have been booby-trapped by the gun lobby.

[Rifle (gun lobby) aimed at fallen figure (gun bill)]
[Rifle (gun lobby) aimed at fallen figure (gun bill)], 1976
Ink, tonal overlay on paper
Prints & Photographs Division (11)
LC-USZ62-130428

The Flights at Night
The Flights at Night
, 1976
Ink, zip-a-tone on paper
Prints & Photographs Division (12)
LC-USZ62-130429

In 1976, an investigation revealed that the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation had offered bribes and made illegal payments to officials in Japan, Italy, West Germany, the Netherlands, Turkey, and Greece. At about the same time, the Northrop Corporation admitted that it had paid improper commissions to individuals in Italy, Greece, Somalia, Portugal, and Turkey.

Southern Rhodesia, under the leadership of its white Prime Minister Ian Smith (1919- ), declared its independence from Great Britain in 1965. Only after international economic sanctions brought the country to the brink of disaster did Smith reluctantly accept a plan proposed by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (1923- ) and British Prime Minister James Callaghan (1912- ) to transfer power to the black majority within two years. As Valtman predicted, the transfer did not go smoothly and it was a number of years before the country became fully independent under its new name, Zimbabwe.

OK, I'm ready and willing to carry this out
OK, I'm ready and willing to carry this out
, October 31, 1976
Ink, tonal overlay on paper
Prints & Photographs Division (13)
LC-USZ62-130430

Don't Look Now, But I'm Afraid Somebody Is Following Us
Don't Look Now, But I'm Afraid Somebody Is Following Us
,
1977
Published in Edmund Valtman, Valtman: The Editorial Cartoons of Edmund S. Valtman, 1961-1991. Baltimore, MD: Esto, Inc., 1991, p. 21.
Ink, tonal overlay on paper
Prints & Photographs Division (14)
LC-USZ62-130431

By 1977, the Soviet government, led by Leonid Brezhnev (1906-1982) and Aleksey Kosygin (1904-1980), was made up of old hard-line Communists who had been raised under the tutelage of Stalin. Valtman was prescient in his speculation that a new breed, who had never known the ideological fervor of the Russian Revolution, would lead the Soviet Union in a more modern direction.

According to legend, the Gordian knot was an intricate knot in a chariot thong that could only be untied by the person destined to be the master of Asia. Confronted with the knot, Alexander the Great solved the problem by cutting it with one stroke of his sword. In 1972, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat (1918-1981) and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin (1913-1992) began to take steps for the first time to try to reach a solution to the problems of the hostility of the Arab states to Israel and the settlement of the Palestinian refugee problem. In November 1977, Sadat visited Israel and he and Begin pledged - unlike Alexander - to settle their differences without resort to arms.

Agreed - Not to use the sword
Agreed - Not to use the sword,
1977
Ink, tonal overlay on paper
Prints & Photographs Division (15)
LC-USZ62-130432

[Chinese Dragon Breathing Fire on Soviet Bear]
[Chinese Dragon Breathing Fire on Soviet Bear]
, August 24, 1978
Ink, tonal overlay on paper
Prints & Photographs Division (16)
LC-USZ62-130433

Relations between the Soviet Union and China, the two great Communist superpowers, were frequently acrimonious, due to a long history of rivalry and conflict. In the 1970s, border disputes contributed to the problem. In March, 1978, the Chinese rebuffed a Soviet offer to discuss improving relations.

In September 1978, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat (1918-1981) and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin (1913-1992) signed an accord at Camp David, committing themselves to producing a peace treaty. The Arab states furiously rejected the idea, and at a meeting of the Arab League in Baghdad in October 1978, proposed creating a $9 billion dollar fund to help states confronting Israel. Despite the hostility of his former allies, Sadat continued efforts to come to agreement with Israel. The peace treaty was finally signed in March 1979.

"He isn't even looking this way!"
"He isn't even looking this way!"
November 9, 1978
Ink, tonal overlay on paper
Prints & Photographs Division (17)
LC-USZ62-130434

The Man Who Came to Dinner
The Man Who Came to Dinner,
1979
Published in Edmund Valtman, Valtman: The Editorial Cartoons of Edmund S. Valtman, 1961-1991. Baltimore, MD: Esto, Inc., 1991, p. 16.
Ink, tonal overlay on paper
Prints & Photographs Division (18)
LC-USZ62-130435

After Estonia was incorporated into the Soviet Union at the close of World War II, many Russians were resettled in the largely agricultural country to provide the manpower necessary for industrialization. By 1979, the population was almost 25% Russian. Valtman's caption alludes to the popular play by George S. Kaufman (1889-1961) about an unpleasant dinner guest who stayed on, completely disrupting an entire household.

After the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December 1979, Russian nuclear physicist and Nobel Prize winner Andrei Sakharov (1921-1989) called for international pressure to force Soviet withdrawal and advocated a boycott of the Olympic Games to be held in Moscow the following summer. The Soviet government, headed by Leonid Brezhnev (1906-1982), arrested Sakharov, stripped him of his honors, and exiled him to Gorky where he could not be interviewed by western reporters. The United States and 54 other countries eventually did boycott the games.

We Want the Olympics to Be a Pure Sporting Event - Not Just an Opportunity for the Western News to Lionize Dissidents and to Play Politics
We Want the Olympics to Be a Pure Sporting Event - Not Just an Opportunity for the Western News to Lionize Dissidents and to Play Politics,
1980
Published in Edmund Valtman, Valtman: The Editorial Cartoons of Edmund S. Valtman, 1961-1991. Baltimore, MD: Esto, Inc., 1991, p. 24.
Ink, tonal overlay on paper
Prints & Photographs Division (19)
LC-USZ62-436

[Gorbachev beholds a crushed hammer and sickle]
[Gorbachev beholds a crushed hammer and sickle], 1991
Published in: The Waterbury Republican and The Middletown press, 1991; The best editorial cartoons of the year, 1992, p. 14; Edmund Valtman, Valtman: The Editorial Cartoons of Edmund S. Valtman, 1961-1991. Baltimore, MD: Esto, Inc., 1991, p. 13.
Ink, tonal overlay on paper
Prints & Photographs Division (20)
LC-USZ62-130437

One of a new generation of Soviet leaders who ascended to power in 1980s, Mikhail S. Gorbachev (1931- ) implemented political and cultural reforms such as perestroika (restructuring of the Russian economy) and glasnost (new "openness"). By 1991 he faced challenges from the deteriorating Soviet economy, communist hard liners, nationalists and secessionists who desired independence for their republics. Though hard-liners staged a coup in August, 1991, and placed him under house arrest, reformers re-instated him to power within three days. Valtman portrays a sober Gorbachev surveying the once solid symbol of Soviet unity, now a fragmented stone ruin.

Between 1985 and 1990 Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev (1931- ) steered Russia's foreign relations in a new conciliatory direction by working with Presidents Reagan and Bush to sign a series of arms control agreements, withdrawing Soviet troops from Afghanistan, and improving relations with China. He also transferred power from the Communist Party to elected legislatures in Russia's union republics. Such developments, along with the fall of the Berlin Wall and unification of East and West Germany, signaled the end of the Cold War. Gorbachev leads the funeral procession in Valtman's imaginative, skillfully realized drawing which memorializes the demise of communism as its hallowed trinity-Karl Marx (1818-1883), Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924), and Joseph Stalin (1879-1953) look on in consternation.

I Can't Believe My Eyes!
I Can't Believe My Eyes!,
1991
Published in: The Waterbury Republican and The Middletown press, 1991; The best editorial cartoons of the year, 1992, p. 21; Edmund Valtman, Valtman: The Editorial Cartoons of Edmund S. Valtman, 1961-1991. Baltimore, MD: Esto, Inc., 1991, p. 15.
Ink, tonal overlay on paper
Prints & Photographs Division (21)
LC-USZ62-130438

For Fifty Years I Worked Hard to Keep You Occupied - You Have to Pay Me a Pension Now
For Fifty Years I Worked Hard to Keep You Occupied -
You Have to Pay Me a Pension Now, 1994
Ink, tonal overlay on paper
Prints & Photographs Division (22)
LC-USZ62-130447

In 1944, Russian troops drove the Germans out of Estonia and immediately incorporated it into the Soviet Union. Fifty years later, with the fall of the Iron Curtain, Estonia had declared its independence, but Russian leader Boris Yeltsin (1931- ) refused to remove the last 2000 Russian troops until the Estonian government agreed to provide former Russian officers who had retired there with citizenship, housing, and pensions. Under pressure from the United States, the Russians eventually backed down.

Spiro Agnew (1918- 1996), 39th Vice President of the United States, was well known for his controversial speeches attacking liberals and anti-war demonstrators. While he gained the majority of this attention winning the Presidential election with Richard Nixon in 1968, the year 1970 ushered in a greater public audience when Agnew was chosen as the Republican party's primary speaker during the congressional campaign. In this 1970 caricature, Edmund Valtman portrays an image of Agnew, standing at the podium, the ax hidden behind his back a signal of his constant, severe criticism of political opponents.

Spiro Agnew
Spiro Agnew
, 1970
Ink on paper
Courtesy of J. Arthur Wood, Jr.
Prints & Photographs Division (27)
LC-USZ62-130443

Nixon
Nixon
, [ca. 1970]
Published in Edmund Valtman, Valtman: The Editorial Cartoons of Edmund S. Valtman, 1961-1991. Baltimore, MD: Esto, Inc., 1991, p. 42.
Ink on board
Courtesy of J. Arthur Wood, Jr.
Prints & Photographs Division (26)
LC-USZ62-130442

Edmund Valtman depicts President Richard M. Nixon (1913-1994) with folded hands seated before a microphone in front of an American flag. Although the cartoonist signed the drawing as Vallot, the pseudonym he used before 1949 in his native Estonia, his caricature appears to portray the president making one of his talks to the American people, attempting to explain the Watergate scandal during the 1972-1974 period.

Irishman George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) gained fame and a Nobel Prize for literature writing plays such as Saint Joan and The Apple Cart. Shaw's creativity not only served as a form of entertainment for the public, it also provided him an outlet to express his social and political opinions. His deep interests in music, intellectual criticism, and philosophy kept him in the public eye until his death in 1950. The world came to know the face of Shaw as captured by Edmund Valtman: bushy eyebrows and beard, his mouth open and ready to comment on society through the creativity of his plays.


George Bernard Shaw
, [ca. 1964]
Ink on board
Courtesy of J. Arthur Wood, Jr.
Prints & Photographs Division (30)
LC-USZ62-130446

Leonid Brezhnev
Leonid Brezhnev
, [ca.1968]
Published in Edmund Valtman, Valtman: The Editorial Cartoons of Edmund S. Valtman, 1961-1991. Baltimore, MD: Esto, Inc., 1991, p.13.
Ink on board
Courtesy of J. Arthur Wood, Jr.
Prints & Photographs Division (25)
LC-USZ62-130418

Leonid Brezhnev ( 1906-1982) played a strong and significant role in Soviet Union politics and the communist party from 1931 until his death in 1982. As a statesman and communist party official, he was one of the core leaders of the Soviet Union. Consistent in his belief that military and defense strengths would advance the Soviet Union in standing, he was often seen in a dark suit, his medals visibly marking his military and political rank.

Samuel Beckett (1906- 1989), Nobel Prize winner and writer of the internationally acclaimed play Waiting for Godot, was described by many as dark and reclusive. Never a fan of public life, Beckett chose to immerse himself in theology, literature and philosophy. It is fitting that Valtman portrays him holding a book, for an immense knowledge comparable to Beckett's was the key to interpreting his writing.

Samuel Beckett
Samuel Beckett
, 1969
Ink on board
Courtesy of J. Arthur Wood, Jr.
Prints & Photographs Division (29)
LC-USZ62-130445

Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro

Published in Edmund Valtman, Valtman: The Editorial Cartoons of Edmund S. Valtman, 1961-1991. Baltimore, MD: Esto, Inc., 1991, p. 26.
Ink on board
Courtesy of J. Arthur Wood, Jr.
Prints & Photographs Division (24)
LC-USZ62-130441

Fidel Castro (1926/7- ) gained an early audience for his opinions on the Cuban government beginning in 1950 after graduating from the University of Havana. He quickly gained power and support by speaking to fellow Cubans about his dissatisfaction with the political dictatorship in Cuba and was a key leader in organizing the rebel force known as "The 26th of July" revolutionary movement. Through this following, composed largely of city dwellers and exiles, Castro gained sufficient support to overthrow the Cuban government in 1959. He was proclaimed premier in 1959 and from that point on worked to transform Cuba into the first communist state in the western hemisphere. He rules the nation to this day.

While President of Uganda from 1971 to1979 Idi Amin (ca. 1925- ) committed appalling acts of violence against the people of his country. A career army officer, Amin overthrew the elected government of Milton Obote in 1971. During Amin's first year in office, he ordered massacres of troops whom he suspected of disloyalty. In 1972, he expelled Uganda's Indian and Pakistani populations, people who owned most of Uganda's businesses. This hastened the country's economic decline. Following a coup attempt in 1972, Amin sent squads of soldiers to seize and kill Ugandans who criticized him or whom he considered dangerous. Tanzanians and exiled Ugandans infiltrated Uganda and overthrew Amin's government in 1979. He fled to Libya, then Saudi Arabia, then Bahrain. An estimated 300,000, possibly 500,000 civilians may have been killed under Amin's regime. Valtman renders Amin as a bloated, powerful figure in military dress covered with medals and insignia, crowned by his small head with heavy features.

Idi Amin
Idi Amin
Ink on board
Courtesy of J. Arthur Wood, Jr.
Prints & Photographs Division (23)
LC-USZ62-130419

Mao [Zedong]
Mao
[Zedong]
Published in Edmund Valtman, Valtman: The Editorial Cartoons of Edmund S. Valtman,
1961-1991. Baltimore: Esto, Inc., 1991, p. 81.
Ink on paper
Courtesy of J. Arthur Wood, Jr.
Prints & Photographs Division (28)
LC-USZ62-130444

Mao Zedong (1893-1976) rose from humble origins to become chairman of the Chinese Communist Party and main founder of the People's Republic of China. As a young man he was strongly influenced by Marxism and helped create the Chinese Communist party in Shanghai in 1921. An uprising of poverty-stricken peasants in Hunan province in 1927 deeply affected him, awakening his conviction that peasant unrest should receive Communist support. Through years of war and political struggle, he built the Chinese Communist Party and Red Army into dominant national forces. In October, 1949, he proclaimed the establishment of the People's Republic of China and was elected President. Though Mao could be ruthless, he is remembered as a consistent champion of China's neglected peasantry. Valtman has chosen to caricature Mao, one of the pre-eminent revolutionaries and political leaders of the 20th century, as a spokesman of the people.




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  March 14, 2003

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