During the early twentieth century, print journals, magazines and books were a globally-circulating source of text and imagery related to Leftist ideals. Ranging from socially-engaged images of the urban and rural poor to depictions of revolutionary protest, work by artists like Käthe Kollwitz, José Clemente Orozco and George Grosz travelled around the world and were appropriated by editors (and other artists) in various ways. Working with original and facsimile copies of Belgian, Chinese, German, Mexican, and Peruvian printed material from the 1920s through 1940s, this lecture will discuss how material from widely-distributed geographical locations referenced similar ideas of protest and resistance, sometimes through the surprising use of shared images.

Following the October Revolution of 1917, the ensuing two decades saw not only the continuing growth of periodical and print production and circulation on a global scale, but also the concomitant transmission of Leftist imagery in a variety of guises. Artworks, sometimes even the same individual work representing the plight of the poor and disenfranchised, appeared in books and journals in locations as disparate as Peru, Germany, and China. What made these images so transportable, and translatable, in so many different cultural contexts? In this lecture, Dr. Liz Emrich-Rougé will discuss works from the Library’s collection that contain Leftist imagery, identified by either social justice themes or clear political or revolutionary content. These works will provide a jumping-off point to discuss formal (in the use of shared images) and thematic (in the use of shared ideas) connections between globally-circulating printed material from the early twentieth century. Objects under discussion include monographs on artists including José Clemente Orozco, George Grosz, and Käthe Kollwitz published during the early twentieth century as well original and facsimile journal issues from China, Peru and Mexico from the 1920s and 1930s, all held in the collections of Cambridge University Library.

Speaker Biography
Elizabeth Emrich-Rougé is currently a CVC Visiting Research Fellow in the History of Art Department at Cambridge University. Her research addresses the materiality, circulation and aesthetic qualities of transnational leftist material in the Interwar period, with a particular focus on popular publications and film produced in Republican-era China. She uses digital humanities and art historical methods to connect the output of Chinese artists and writers with work created around the globe in the first half of the twentieth century. Her PhD (2020, Cornell University) focussed on revising the historiography of the modern Chinese woodblock print movement during the 1930s

After the lecture, you are invited to join us for tea, coffee, and conversation between 11.00 and 12.00.

Image: Wang Dunqing (1899-1990), Western Civilisation (Xiyang Wenming, 西洋文明), in Modern Sketch (Shidai Manhua, 時代漫畫), No. 15, March 1935; Image courtesy of Colgate University Library.