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A Cartoonist Who Came In From the Cold

Edmund S. Valtman (1914- ) may be the only American cartoonist of the Cold War era who experienced Soviet rule firsthand. The Pulitzer Prize-winning (1962) cartoonist was working as a draftsman in his native Estonia when the Soviets overran the Baltic states in 1940. Russia went to war with Germany in 1941 and subsequently mobilized Estonian men under 50, including Valtman's two brothers, to the Soviet Union. Germany occupied Estonia for three years until the Soviets reoccupied the beleaguered nation. These tumultuous events and their repercussions marked Valtman profoundly -- ultimately bringing him to American shores and sharply shaping his anti-Communist stance on Cold War issues in his cartoons. This online collection draws primarily on the 340 drawings that he gave to the Library in 1999-2001.

Edmund Valtman, 'This Hurts Me More Than It Hurts You,' 1962 Edmund Valtman,

Valtman used his art to skewer communists such as Fidel Castro, Nikita Khrushchev, Leonid Brezhnev and Mao Zedong, But his acid barbs were not reserved only for communists. Richard Nixon was the butt of many of Valtman's cartoons during the Watergate scandal of 1972-74 as was Nixon's vice president, Spiro Agnew. A caricature of President Idi Amin, who committed appalling atrocities against Ugandans, shows him as a bloated military figure with a head too small for his body.

And literary giants such as George Bernard Shaw and Samuel Beckett also received the Valtman treatment, albeit more kindly.

The Library's Prints and Photographs Division is home of the Caroline and Erwin Swann Foundation for Caricature and Cartoon. New York advertising executive Erwin Swann (1906-1973) established the Swann Foundation for Caricature and Cartoon in 1967. An avid collector, Swann assembled a large group of original drawings by 400 artists, spanning two centuries, which his estate bequeathed to the Library of Congress in two installments, in 1974 and 1977. Swann's original purpose was to compile a collection of original drawings by significant humorous and satiric artists and to encourage the study of original cartoon and caricature drawings as works of art.

The Valtman online presentation is one of a dozen offered by the division at its "Exhibitions and Online Presentations" page. Here, you can enjoy the remarkable work of artists such as Al Hirschfeld, Bill Mauldin, Chic Young and Pat Oliphant. More images can also be found in the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog.

If the history of caricature and cartooning is of interest, the 1998 Library of Congress- National Portrait Gallery joint conference, "Caricature and Cartoon in Twentieth Century America" may be for you. You can read what experts had to say at this conference as well as visit a complementary exhibition that was mounted at the Portrait Gallery.

A. Edmund Valtman, "This Hurts Me More Than It Hurts You," 1962. Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction information: Reproduction No.: LC-USZ62-130423

B. Edmund Valtman, "Samuel Beckett," 1969. Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction information: Reproduction No.: LC-USZ62-130445

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