Grosz’s Car on a Ship and Bert’s Hundred Crown Notes for Fines: The Forgotten Artist Joseph Jusztusz, aka the Well-Known anti-Nazi Caricaturist Bert
The artist Joseph (Josef) Jusztusz (Justus) (9. 3. 1900, Kolocza, Hungary — 1944, Auschwitz-Birkenau, Poland) is completely forgotten today. We know almost nothing about his life, although we are less ignorant of his work than we think. In the first half of the 1930s he was one of the most prominent artists of the circle of anti-Nazi caricaturists who fled to Czechoslovakia from the persecution of Nazi Germany, and who influenced the trend of Czech social and political illustration. Jusztusz worked under the pseudonym Bert alongside such Czech illustrators as František Bidlo, Josef Čapek, Adolf Hoffmeister, Antonín Pelc and Ondřej Sekora, as a foreign contributor to the satirical weekly Der Simplicus / Der Simpl. His works gradually influenced the nature of the whole journal, and several of them he exhibited in the famous International Exhibition of Caricature and Humour in SVU Mánes in Prague. Although Jusztusz did not escape the attention of the censors and intelligence agents, his identity was successfully kept secret and is debated to this very day. This essay however uses archive sources to reveal the artist’s identity with certainty, including his Hungarian origin and Berlin training. The editor-in-chief of the Prager Presse Arne Laurin described him as ‘a man of exceptional moral qualities’. His own correspondence touches on his fate as a refugee including the results of being uprooted from his native land. Not only could most of the original drawings in the holdings of the National Gallery in Prague be identified through the aspect of the artwork of Bert as draughtsman, as well as the stylistic plurality of his work specified on the basis of the drawing tendencies of his works published in the Prager Presse, Neuer Vorwärts, Prager Tagblatt and České slovo, but Jusztusz’s probable authorship of the painting Circus, until now ascribed to Georg Grosz (1893–1959), could also be pointed out. Bert was compared with Grosz very frequently in his time. The study therefore focuses similarly on the context of their attitudes to life and on work that supports doubts about the authorship of the painting.
Bronislava Rokytová: email@example.com