by Pierre Vudrag on Thursday, February 25, 2016

Political Art / Satirical Cartoons, a once all to important, but unfortunately, slowly fading art form which appeared in all forms of daily and weekly newspapers, newsletters, brochures, magazines and other print media.  Mixing humor with irony to make a political statement or commentary, political art has been an important tool to inform the public about current events, often providing insight not apparent on the surface.

From our infancy, political art was used to spread propaganda and news about the fight to gain American independence from British rules.  Political art continued to be used to cover all news including the many dark stains in American political life such as slavery, the Civil War through Jim Crow, World Wars through the Cold-War, and the Witch Hunts of the McCarty Era in the 1950s, leading into the most turbulent period of political and social unrest, the 1960s.  Jumping from crisis to crisis, many of which are still impacting American politics today, from the Cuba Missile Crisis, civil rights, student riots and subsequent killings of unarmed student protesters by the National Guard at Kent State University, the assassinations of president John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy and Malcolm X.  This political unrest did not subside with the coming of the preceding decade but rather intensified in the 1970’s, which continued to spew out world changing crisis including the continuation of the never-ending war in Vietnam.

One talented political cartoonist, Ralph N. Vinson, covered many national and local issues working for the New Orleans States-Item during the late sixties through the mid-seventies.


Earth Week 1971 Original Political Art

created by Vinson, caption reads (in pencil at top of drawing): This Is ‘Earth Week’!  — We come Into The World With Nothing And We Go Out With Nothing … But Just Look What We Leave Behind! — Published on Tuesday, April 20, 1971 in the New Orleans States-Item.

Original pen and ink political cartoons created by Vinson during the period of 1968 through 1974 were recently discovered and provide a glimpse into the national issues of the period, from environmental crisis, political campaigns, Supreme Court rulings, Mid-East peace crisis and Watergate and subsequent cover-up by President Richard M. Nixon and the eventual pardon by former Nixon Vice President and then current U.S. President Gerald Ford.

Richard M. Nixon Watergate Bugs in the White House Original Political Art

Created by Vinson caption reads (in pencil at top of drawing): Hello Exterminator, I just Discovered Bugs in the White House
Original political cartoon created by Ralph N. Vinson and published on Thursday, April 19, 1973 in the New Orleans States-Item.

Death Penalty and the Supreme Court
Original Political Art

Caption reads (in pencil at top of drawing): To Be, Or Not To Be… DEATH PENALTY – SUPREME COURT —published on Friday, March 17, 1972 in the New Orleans States-Item.

As the printed newspaper slowly fades into obscurity and news publications move online, political cartoons as an art form is dying and may soon fade into obscurity.  With the discovery of Vinson’s work and hopefully many more to come this lost art form could still survive not only as nostalgic vintage art but also as a reminder that in many way life progresses in much the same way irrespective of technological advances.

See the entire collection of these newly discovered political art of Ralph N. Vinson

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