Monday, 27 March 2017

Sørensen! Sørensen!

Pages for a new History of Political Cartooning in Denmark 

A certain personage keeps popping up in the first generations of Danish cartooning: Hr. Folket (i.e. Mr. People) while still a subject of the King, but from 1849 when he was a citizen in his own right, he became Hr. Sørensen / Mr. Sørensen.

His chosen name was the closest at hand, taking that of his publisher. Not that he had chosen a new master. On the contrary, a publisher is responsible for what he is printing. It is the publisher and not the cartoonist, who enters the courtroom or goes to prison if it comes to that. Responsibility implies a free citizen.

Peter Klæstrup, Folkets Nisse, No. 77, August 28, 1852.
The cover spells "announcement", the ministry is lulling him to sleep beforehand.

Mr. Sørensen served a double purpose. He would generally be asleep, which was too how he was first presented.

Peter Klæstrup, Folkets Nisse, No. 88,
November 13, 1852.
ABC in images: spelling the difference
between nobles and commoners.

Peter Klæstrup, Folkets Nisse, No. 63,
May 22, 1852.
When international agreements were bent against
the expectations of Mr. Sørensen.

His sleeping indicated his lack of rights to involve himself in the matters of the state, just as it indicated his lack of interest in changing his situation, and so drawing him was at once a wake up-call, Oh, come on! - to the readers of the satirical magazines as it pointed to the need of their active involvement in what was going on.

Speaking of satirical magazines, he first appeared in Corsaren and went on to Pjerrot and Folkets Nisse, first and foremost. Peter Klæstrup was his cartoonist, but he was to be drawn by later cartoonists such as Knud Gamborg.

Being a visual character his main characteristic was his lack of all things visual. He had a soft, rounded belly and soft, rounded features. He was the next thing to a non-entity.

Peter Klæstrup, Folkets Nisse, No. 87, November 6, 1852.
Mr. Sørensen lapping up all he is told on the German prince created
heir to the Danish throne in London.
"Bon appetit, you, who would so reluctantly change your cap", the text concludes.

The only thing akin to a revolution on him was his nightcap with reminiscences from the French revolution. The possibility of his rebellion was a constant presence.

Peter Klæstrup, Folkets Nisse, No. 49, February 14, 1852.
Portrait of a French interpellation
(formal request that may lead to a vote of no
confidence) about to lay an egg.
And yet Mr. Sørensen remained in contrast to the European uprisings that were not far away in geography and time. As such he was a harsh comment on those busy declaring national characteristics, such as the author Henrik Hertz who in a 1839-novel described the "foreign disease" from which the young was suffering.
Peter Klæstrup, Folkets Nisse, No. 49, February 14, 1852.
- which is how a Danish one should look too. Only, the egg is different.

Peter Klæstrup, Folkets Nisse, No. 75, August 14, 1852.
Mocked by taxes, the absence of an electoral law and
the revision (i.e. reduction) of the Constitution.

No, as Hertz pointed out: the Danish culture was an old one, based on the mutual trust between the King and his people. Demanding it all written down into a constitution was nonsensical! It only served to undermine everything, Hertz declared.

Trust, moderation, calm, and speaking quietly were the typical characteristics with which the Danish culture was described, with a direct political aspect to it, as Hertz was but one example of. He knew very well, in fact he wrote because of it, that journalists were being censored, some for life by the King at the time.

So Mr. Sørensen was phlegm impersonated. The no-one-in-particular as opposed to the loud and personal voices of the "foreign disease".

Peter Klæstrup, Folkets Nisse, No. 45, November 11, 1865
Mr. Sørensen questioning the sympathies of a politician.
His mere presence was a mocking of the "Danish" characteristics, exposing the weakness of body and mind of it. Calm and moderation was translated into compliance. None of which should be lauded, but declared a problem.

Peter Klæstrup, Folkets Nisse, No. 48, February 7, 1852.
Mr. Sørensen on the diplomatic balance beam,
"We are at the ending of the beginning"
- which proves that Churchill was quoting and not inventing the phrase a 100 years later.

It was a clever move not giving him any of the national symbols, which were newly sung at the time. He could have been an farmer with heavy wooden shoes pondering on the harvest in the setting sun. Instead, he was a citizen. Someone with a wife, children and a home, but they were hardly even delineated.

Peter Klæstrup, Folkets Nisse, No. 36, September 8, 1866.
"Danish national fashion in Paris"
Mocking Napoleon III for having turned his Phrygian cap into a nightcap too,
i.e. being a chicken when dealing with Germany's Bismarck.
He was drawn as the one paying taxes, having wishes and anxieties, he was asking questions, because that was the other side of him: he was everyone.

He surveyed negotiations between states, when he did not undertake them himself, showing that the free citizen forms part of that state negotiating.

He negotiated the right too to get out of the nightcap and into something more dignified.

Every time he was told that was an honor that did not belong him, not yet at least. He had a job to do.  

Peter Klæstrup, Folkets Nisse, No. 46, January 24, 1852.
Mr. Sørensen hunting for his political rights.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Reiersen the Second

Pages for a new History of Political Cartooning in Denmark 

Peter Klæstrup for Folkets Nisse, No. 88. November 13, 1852.
The sun rising in the name of King Christian IX, who had just been chosen
as successor to the throne according to the London Treaty.
The sunflowers turning their heads are all loyalists among the press.

Peter Klæstrup for Folkets Nisse, No. 14, April 7, 1866.
The ultimate bending over was s favorite
from the first cartoons before democracy
Springtime in the second half of the 19th century was the season of the King's birthday and consequently the highlight of the year for anyone aspiring to an order. It was the highlight alike for any satirical magazine worth the acid of its tongue.

1865 brought Heyman to the scene. In 1866 the brothers Otto and Frederik Algreen Ussing were appointed chamberlains to the king. The brothers were members of Augustforeningen (i.e. The August Society) and identified themselves as The Black Brother and The White Brother according to their hair color.

According to Folkets Nisse they were thus fittingly born with the Prussian colors.

Peter Klæstrup for Folkets Nisse, No. 79,
September 11, 1852.
Some seek protection from the rain,
others expose themselves to it.
Back to 1866, the ill-fated magazine Pjerrot had sprouted a new magazine, Pjerrot Junior, which was published for the first time at the beginning of May 1866 and by the end of that month it was sued. Pjerrot Junior had declared how being a member of The August Society was the worst crime of the state and that The Society was exaggerating the number of its members.

Peter Klæstrup for Folkets Nisse, No. 34, August 25, 1866.
Celebrating the second anniversary of The August Society. The Brothers
are posing (citing a popular novel of the time) as "Guards to the Queen".

Two months later the case was rejected for formal reasons by the court, since The Brothers Ussing had sued the magazine in togetherness. The Ussings were told to pay the publisher 10 Rigsdaler.

But before the ruling, the then publisher or rather he who just happened to have his name on the magazine at that time, the bookseller F.V. Thomsen was already in trouble.

The Brothers Ussing had by way of the General Procureur Association made Thomsen sign an agreement that if the magazine in word or image, directly or indirectly were to comment in an improper manner on the King, Queen or their descendants of which the Ussings would be the judge, Thomsen would pay The Ussing Brothers 250 Rigsdaler.
Peter Klæstrup for Folkets Nisse, No. 43,
November 10, 1866.
"Dressed up to be seen by their majesties,
maybe having the joy of being spat at,
if only they would overlook the donkey ears".

An agreement so outrageous that... but let us tell the tale of Thomsen first: In return, The Ussing Brothers would dismiss the court case. Thomsen was poor and he had got the reassurance that he needed.

Just about a week after the signing of the agreement, Pjerrot Jr. was of course overstepping the line stated - and the Ussing Brothers dragged Thomsen to court. Unable to pay 10 let alone 250 Rigsdaler, Thomsen ended up in debtor's prison.

Thomsen was jailed in October and was meant to be imprisoned for a year before the debt would have been paid off. He was released in November, however, in that in the meantime voices in the press spoke unequivocally: The Ussing Brothers were the guilty party. They had executed censorship.

Peter Klæstrup for Folkets Nisse, No. 15, April 14, 1866.
The white brother and the black brother sucking up to the royal slipper.

Peter Klæstrup for Folkets Nisse, No. 15, April 14, 1866:
"The picture album of the young daughters of a baronet
showing The Ussing Brothers in their new uniforms".
For one thing they had as private citizens established a court agreement. As private citizens too they had declared themselves the protectors of the King.

The Ussing Brothers were in other words the old censor Reiersen all over again and were given the nick name Reiersen the Second.

The name was apt, but their enterprise was a serious matter.

It was private censorship.

Private censorship executed as a question of honor, which in fact could be turned against the King and Queen and their descendants considering an impoverished man was imprisoned in their name.

Given the opportunity The Ussing Brothers had set themselves above the King, running the country as they found it fit, deciding what was permitted and what was not.

Peter Klæstrup for Folkets Nisse, No. 35, September 1, 1866.
The new crest of the realm according to The Brothers Ussing.
They are dressed in loyalist papers
and their clubs are written in Danish with a thick German accent.

Peter Klæstrup for Folkets Nisse, No. 36,
September 8, 1866
Dressed as Russian censors for the wedding festivities
of the Kings daughter, Dagmar marrying the Tsar.
This was the first time The Ussings were visualized
as censors.

The present cartoons are all from Folkets Nisse (i.e. the Elf of the People, he who is illuminating the people with his lamp). Folkets Nisse may have been contacted by The Brothers too, but that magazine was an old player of the game.

Peter Klæstrup for Folkets Nisse, No. 36,
September 8, 1866.
The royal censors created nobility at
the Queen's birthday, taking the name
Hans Sachs, (i.e. His Scissors).
This shall be their family crest.
Folkets Nisse ran a continued story on how two gentlemen in uniform, speaking German, approached the magazine during an editorial meeting, bending over in reverence resembling the digit 9.

The Ussing Brothers - still according to Folkets Nisse - would then ask if the magazine would enter The August Society since it would vastly improve the numbers of its members. The mention of the dwindling society, of course, had been one of the first grievances against Pjerrot Jr.

The Brothers would if so take up work for Folkets Nisse, offering to act as Reiersen the Second, paying Folkets Nisse 250 Rigsdaler every term for their trouble, if only they might censor and cut anything not to their liking and according to their sympathies for the royal court.

Peter Klæstrup for Folkets Nisse, No. 46, November 17, 1866.
"Portraits of the outer part of Chamberlain Ussing and the nether part of student N.N.
presented in the format of a call card".

The story then took on how the editors of Folkets Nisse were winking at each other and joining in on the joke, for one it would be marked on the official calendar from then on that an unbelievable tie had been created between The August Society and Folkets Nisse.

The magazine would be allowed to continue writing as long as what was written was tasteless as water.

In return it would bring 300 new members for the otherwise failing August Society. Drinking into the night, it was decided that The Brothers would thenceforward be known as Reiersen den Anden or Reisersen the Second.

Peter Klæstrup for Folkets Nisse, No. 46, November 17, 1866.
The Last Will and Testament of Folkets Nisse, the week following the release of Thomsen.
The chamberlains shall prove where their loyalty is, cutting open their stomachs to reveal its contents.
The Black and White Ussings in sorrow of (in case of) the ending of Folkets Nisse.  

Folkets Nisse would continue to mock The Brothers, giving them the best answer to an attempt to undermine a democracy: writing openly and critically about those, whose enterprise in a weaker society might have been a dangerous one.

Frederik Algreen-Ussing was removed from a research project as a direct outcome of the revelation in the public. He was a corrupted man. He died a few years later.

The Ussing Brothers would soon be forgotten. It is perhaps the beauty of the tale.

Peter Klæstrup for Folkets Nisse, No. 52, December 29, 1866.
HOW COULD YOU! Hr. Sørensen dealing with The Year 1866
when for one thing The Ussing Brothers were made chamberlains.

Carl Ploug wrote on Thomsen's predicament in his daily Fædrelandet, October 10, 1866.

Nepotism Ahoy!

Pages for a new History of Political Cartooning in Denmark 

Peter Klæstrup, Folkets Nisse, No. 13, Marts 31, 1866.
I.W. Heyman as an April's Fool, not being elected for the town council of Copenhagen.
The journalist advocating for him received his royal order the following year.

Peter Klæstrup, Folkets Nisse,
No. 12, March 24, 1866.
The journalist C.V. Rimestad on the
Sisyphean task of getting Heyman elected.
Last year Erik Petri and I dug out the tale of the satirical magazine Pjerrot accepting bribery from I.W. Heyman to refrain from drawing him with his new royal decoration.

Taking bribery and everyone soon knowing about it was the end of Pjerrot and a special tale in that we have but few of them in this country and we wanted to know more, all the wicked details, which the contemporaries gossiped about and never bothered to write down.

This week, however, when I was searching for something completely different, I found another story of the same kind and even worse: This time the payment went in the opposite direction.

There are many sordid details to that story, so I better begin in another place just to set the tone of the day before we shall be digging into the tale itself in the next blog post.

Peter Klæstrup, Folkets Nisse, No. 64, May 21, 1852.

The decade and a half from the first Constitution in 1849 to 1865, when Heyman paid to remain unseen, saw two futile wars against Germany, neither of which should have been and both of which were only too typical of an atmosphere of fighting for power in a new societal system.

The scene above is mocking those who can only look on in silent protest, Pjerrot to the left, and Hr. Sørensen (i.e. the prototype of the Dane) at the time of the first - and successful (and long since dismissed) - reduction of the constitutional rights as shown in the headless puppet of the Constitution on the floor. The two outside the scene are made up of soft ineffectual lines, while the puppet and Reaction as bride are all about sharp bending to their knees. The frustration is ripe.

Peter Klæstrup for Folkets Nisse, No. 43
October 27, 1866.

The average Danish citizen would then as now not necessarily be supporting the view of the satirical magazines printed in Copenhagen. Mr. Sørensen is seen with the severed head of the new king, which was how any Madam Svendsen of Morsø would see the "liberal Scandinavians" and their satirical magazines.

This is incidentally an instance in which the nightcap of Mr. Sørensen reveals itself as the offspring of the Phrygian cap of the French revolution.

Peter Klæstrup for Folkets Nisse, No. 49, February 14, 1852.
The voter is on the right, his local MP to the left.
Democracy was new and it was at once fragile, such as the changes made to the Constitution, as it was sound in the sense of being the subject of constant debate.

Even at the worst of arguing as to the left and below, this is democracy at its best, confronting the men of Parliament on their responsibility. As Nadia Khiari has put it from the Tunisian perspective: Everyone was talking, talking, talking. The word had been set free.

Peter Klæstrup, Folkets Nisse,  No. 62, May 15, 1852.

The scene above adds perspective to the scene below. Drawn 13 years apart the upper one are about equal parties, especially considering women did not have the right to vote, while below the new king is emptying the pockets of Mr. Sørensen. The Prime Minister, C.C. Hall is fixating him.

Knud Gamborg, Pjerrot, 1865. Photo: Erik Petri.

The new king arrived by way of London as stated on his luggage. The London Treaty of 1852 had established him as the successor to the Danish throne when its predecessor remained childless. Christian IX was selected among a number of nephews of younger siblings, or one niece in particular as it turned out, who then turned over the honor of ruling the country to her husband. He grew up in Germany, or almost, or...

Peter Klæstrup, Folkets Nisse,  No. 21, May 26, 1866.
"A bright military person"
- the King muttering to himself in German,
unable to read the dispatches from his own daughter
written in Danish. He concludes, he shall have to ask his wife
(who was closer in line to the throne).
Peter Klæstrup, Folkets Nisse, No. 51
December 17, 1864.
"My King! With permission to ask if my King
thinks and feels in Danish?"

With such an intricate dance as that, why not abolish the royal house altogether? It had an air of horse-trading to it, which seemed unworthy in a modern society, as became the constant theme of the political cartooning of the day.

For one thing royal houses bring a trail of nepotism with them. The obvious ones are but the least of the problem:

Peter Klæstrup, Folkets Nisse,  No. 64, May 21, 1852.
"- General Hans! What will you be doing today?
- General Julius - Nothing! And you?
- I shall assist you!"

Peter Klæstrup, Folkets Nisse,  No. 43, October 27, 1866.
Bismarck having been ill was once again top of his game,
containing smaller kingdoms.
The two younger brothers of the King, the Princes Hans and Julius, became the Danish faces of the obesity brought on by a royal house.

These two had served in the Prussian army, which just five minutes before had been fighting the Danes, cough..... bowing in reverence to these two, one might as well be bowing to Bismarck:

Peter Klæstrup for Folkets Nisse,
No. 13, March 31, 1866.
Folkets Nisse, i.e. the Elf of the People,
illuminating the times with his lamp:
" - Look, Sørensen, the Princes Hans
and Julius are leaving Denmark!
- Really, where?
 - April's Fool!"

In the midst of all of this, the two monocled donkeys to the left below are what our story shall be about:

Peter Klæstrup for Folkets Nisse, No. 45, November 10, 1866.
A grand ball celebrating the wedding
of the King's daughter, Dagmar to the Russian Tsar.
The Russian officer on his left arm is eyeing the possibility of having Denmark for dessert.
Mr. Sørensen on his other arm is crying at the sight before him, pretending his tears are of joy.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

The Tattooed Hand that is Europe

The act of seeing demanding our attention. 

The gesture that is a warning to stop and look at the reality of stop and get lost. 

Whatever the statement, standpoint or excuse, the fingerprint of European politics of the 2010's is that of refusing relief to humans in need. Hokusai gave us that boat on the verge of being crushed within The Great Wave. Vasco Gargalo has turned the scene on us in confrontation. 

The tattooed hand that is Europe. And the cartoonist was not to blame. It was the cartoonist, however, who inked the image upon our brains. 

Vasco Gargalo, Migrants of the Mediterreanean, March 20, 2017.

The cartoon shown is courtesy of Vasco Gargalo and must not be reproduced without his permission.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Rutte It Was

Drawn one year ago almost to the day:

Riber Hansson, The Ideologies, March 6, 2016.

Remember Riber Hansson pondering on the nudity of Putin? Riber has not let him get away with it. There is that sagging belly situation for instance, in which Putin correlates with Trump. 

With the sagging encasing the globe, Riber Hansson has proven the power of the classical orders of art exposing the problem we are all in, when a person of Trump's caliber takes on symmetry

Living in symmetrical alarm, we have the answer to who made it to Riber's cartoon in today's Sydsvenskan

Wilders was not quite as successful as feared in the Dutch parliamentary election this week and in the relief of Wilder's doing frighteningly well, but "not quite", Rutte is ready to begin shearing the sheep. Their dimple game has been replaced by two sets of eyebrows turning each their way.

Is it bad manners wishing Wilders were a descendant of Samson?

Riber Hansson, Hair Raising Dutchmen, Wilders and Rutte, March 19, 2016.
The music of the title is at its best in Swedish: Hårresande Holländare!

The cartoons shown are courtesy of Riber Hansson and must not be reproduced without his permission.

The Waltz

The triple meter of the waltz takes off from the right with two cavaliers.

The one, who orders according to his own agenda and the other eager to manifest his obedience. In unison they mirror one another, changing the position of their arms according to the other; the order/salute in agreement followed by the presentation/satisfaction.

Their perpetual circle revolves around the third step of their dance, taking the directional arrow for inspiration.

The problem of women is the problem faced by women.

Mana Neyestani, The Problem of Women. March 11, 2017.

The cartoon shown is courtesy of Mana Neyestani and must not be reproduced without his permission.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Prospects and Probables

The sketchbook of a political cartoonist is an algebra calculator.

Riber Hansson, March 15, 2017.

The present pages are by Riber Hansson, assessing the possible turn of events of the week we are now halfway through. What shall have become the main topic of the week once we get to the weekend?

The Turkish constitutional referendum, the elections in the Netherlands and Angela Merkel meeting the new US presidcnt for the first time are three possible contenders, each of which are tested by Riber drawing the who behind the official face. The who behind the who, as it is. Mark Rutte and Geert Wilders are portrayed as twins; Riber's pen is noting their studious power play of dimples to gain the popular vote.

They are mirrored by Merkel and Trump, although their mutual resemblance is less a result of outward competition than their inner state of mind. Merkel (as we may presume) at meeting Trump and Trump being who he is. In being drawn next to each other, though, Merkel's chin takes on a determined edge, whereas Trump is all darkness going downwards.

Riber Hansson, March 15, 2017.

So these are the probable protagonists of our week. It is a harrowing truth that all other contenders shall prove to outshine:

Riber Hansson, March 15, 2017.
Note the full-page Trumpian tie encompassing all of his aides in trouble.

The sketches shown are courtesy of Riber Hansson and must not be reproduced without his permission.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

"If you want a picture of the future"

Firuz Kutal, September 8, 2013.

- (...) imagine a boot stamping on a face - forever" as written by Georg Orwell in 1984.

The Turkey of Erdogan is certainly doing its damnedest to live up to Orwell's words.

And yet, the harder the stamping, sometimes, just sometimes, the poetry of human courage emerges when threatened to its very core. Teachers and academics has created Academics for Peace, refusing to go back to their teaching jobs. The very thing Erdogan tried to suppress, their teaching, is now firing back by way of refusing to exactly that.

A country without teachers is revealing itself as a full-grown tyranny.

The hand outside the face in the cartoon by Firuz Kutal from 2013, is now speaking up from within the body itself. It is still a body enduring the utmost human pain, but now a determined one taking its destiny literally in its own hand. Note how that hand is of the same outline as the body from where it comes.

Firuz Kutal, February 8, 2017.

The cartoons shown are courtesy of Firuz Kutal and must not be reproduced without his permission.

Anyone wishing to support the cause of Academics for Peace in Turkey, please visit their homepage here.

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