Plate 16 from "GAZ" ("GAS"; or "Gas Attack") portfolio by Gyula Zilzer

Plate 16 from GAZ (GAS; or Gas Attack) portfolio by Gyula Zilzer

Plate 16 from "GAZ" ("GAS"; or "Gas Attack") portfolio

Gyula Zilzer

Title

Plate 16 from "GAZ" ("GAS"; or "Gas Attack") portfolio

 
Artist

Gyula Zilzer

  1898 - 1969 (biography)
Year
1932  
Technique
lithograph 
Image Size
11 5/8 x 9 5/16" image size 
Signature
signed in the plate, printed backwards, lower right 
Edition Size
not stated 
Annotations
dated after signature; numbered in lower left 
Reference
 
Paper
cream wove wood pulp base 
State
published 
Publisher
Edition Du Phare, Grande Libraire Universelle, Paris 
Inventory ID
22309 
Price
$400.00 
Description

The full "GAZ" portfolio was first presented at an exhibition in Amsterdam in 1932. In this plate, number 16 of 24 images, a crowd of gas-masked civilians and soldiers crowd a train station, perhaps an underground, to escape the posionous gas that was so prevalent in warfare by the 1930s. Above the tunnel openings, ghastly representations of evil loom over all.

Zilzer created the portfolio as a reaction to the rising European fascism he witnessed and the pressures of anti-Semitism he was frequently a target of--including his sudden expulsion from the Academy of Arts in Budapest, despite broad artistic acclaim, for being deemed "untalented" not long after his Jewish roots were discovered. His socialist activism made him a target and he moved that same year to the United States, where he continued to create works that decried fascism and call for unity against Nazi Germany.

Romain Rolland, in the introduction to the volume, offers little comfort to peace-lovers. "Chemical warfare," he maintains, "will carry with it greater destruction than did the black plague of the fourteenth century....It will consume certain forms of European civilization (and of American civilization as well), notably urban culture. . . .No way exists of escaping war. I believe human insanity irremediable. But this in no way exempts the handful of rational men from standing firm if not for safety at least for self-respect....I can reassure those who fear the end of the human race. The life of the beast is bound to its body. It has already been wasted a hundred times. It will survive this pestilence as it has survived others, but it will be subdued and once more driven back many centuries. This is its manner of progress. Its tenacity to live again counterbalances its frenzy to die."<\i>