ECOlogical caricatures

Special Project of the Library of Ukrainian Art

Ukrainian village in images of Edward Kozak

Edward Kozak (1902-1992) is one of the most interesting and at the same time the least known Ukrainian artists. He didn`t become very popular in Ukraine because almost all his life (since 1939) ECO (with this nickname artist often signed his work) lived abroad. He worked in various genres of art and literature; and created about a thousand pictures during 70 years of his career. In this project of the Library of Ukrainian Art we are considering Edward Kozak as a cartoonist, because there were a few talented Ukrainian cartoonists in the twentieth century.

The first Kozak`s caricature appeared in the satirical magazine “Ziz” in 1925, while the artist was studying in the art school of Oleksa Novakivsky. ECO worked as an editor and illustrator of the magazine until 1933; his works were marked by improvisation, novelty of themes and originality of ideas. From 1933 to 1939, Edward Kozak worked for the popular satirical magazine “Komar” (“Mosquito”). The circulation reached enormous for that time 7000 copies monthly and later weekly. The magazine made fun of the socio-political situation so badly, that in 1939 when the Bolsheviks occupied Lviv, they were searching for Kozak especially meticulously. But he had already emigrated: first to Poland, then to Germany and later to the United States, where he settled.

In Germany in 1948, Edward Kozak launched another satirical magazine – “Fox Mykyta” which had been published until the death of his founder. To investigate the periodicals, in which was Edward Kozak involved in, is a huge job for future researchers. We will focus on his postcards.

There are three sets of postcards by ECO’s authorship:

  • On the themes of the Ukrainian folk songs (1949).
  • “Selo” (“The Ukrainian countryside”) (1956).
  • “The 50th anniversary of USS” (1965, publishers “Chervona Kalyna”, New York).

The special project of the Library of Ukrainian art for the first time exposed online a complete selection of 16 postcards with caricatures “Selo”. They depict typical characters of the ukrainian countryside of over the 1930th. Some of them being real masterpieces are still topical. The extraordinary level of artistic technics impresses greatly. The illustration cycle “Selo” is one of the best by Edward Kozak .

Later ECO released two books, for which he wrote the humorous text and created the illustrations: “Grits Zozulia” (1973) and “Na hlopskiy rozum Hrytsia Zozuli” (1982). They can be considered a prototype of comics; some subjects of caricatures stem from “Selo” cycle because Kozak had always been involved deeply in the life of the ukrainian countryside. The latter set of postcards embodied his feelings in a perfect way.

Postcards set “Selo” (“The Ukrainian countryside”) by Edward Kozak (1956)