Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Satirical Magazines at SFPL

While at the Main Branch Library on Tuesday, I got sidetracked by an exhibit of "subversive humor magazines" on the top floor. It does a good job putting Charlie Hebdo in context, & I actually learned something.

The story begins with Le Charivari, an illustrated Parisian newspaper founded in 1832. Its political & social satire ran afoul of government censors, & it shutdown within a few years. It was the direct inspiration for London's Punch magazine, among others.

If nothing else, the exhibit shows that dumb humor is nothing new.

These magazines clearly reached an artistic peak in the decades around 1900.

This sensitive drawing by Käthe Kollwitz appeared in Simplicissimus, the famous German satirical paper.

It was interesting to learn about Krokodil, the Soviet Union's official satire magazine. Judging by the pages on display, the United Sates & Britain were major targets. The collector Nat Schmulowitz obtained these by subscribing to the magazine directly. When it turned out the U.S. Postal Service was seizing them instead, he sued them to get his missing issues.

I also liked seeing issues of Tarantula, a 50's-style anti-Communist magazine smuggled into East Berlin from the West.

San Francisco is represented by The Nose, which published 25 issues in the 1st half of the 1990s. It seems to have aged well.

§ Mad World
Subversive Humor Magazines from the Schmulowitz Collection of Wit & Humor
April 1 - May 31 2015
Skylight Gallery
Main Library

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