God On Whose Side?

English cartoonist/illustrator Arthur Wragg (1903–1976) (featured last week) produced books on Christian Socialist themes mainly between the two World Wars. The work suggests the American socialist drawings by Hugo Gellert, Jacob Burck and Lynd Ward, rather than fit into an English (David Low) or Continental tradition. These in his book Jesus Wept are attacks on politicians and warmongers who claim that God is on their side.

These images from Jesus Wept (Selwyn & Blunt, Ltd.) use quotations from prominent politicians, people of power, newspapers of the day and social commentators, Arthur Wragg places these statements alongside his powerful illustrations. Jesus Wept highlights the state of a society recovering from the First World War, the depression that followed and the buildup of arms in the 1930s. “This book will shock you, but it will do you good,” wrote Vernon Bartlett in the introduction. “I know very little about pictorial art. … But this I do know—that this bold use of light and shade gives a power and an emphasis to his work the like of which I have never seen elsewhere.”

One website notes: “His illustrations are like no other but characteristically, he is held in low repute if at all. His attacks on the abuses of power, on grinding poverty and hopelessness are realized with considerable power. Although he did not develop anything like a style of drawing that could be related to Cubism or Futurism, he had his own way of drawing suffering and perseverance.”

Thanks to Mirko Ilic for this book.


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