Shmuel Katz

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Shmuel Katz
Shmuel Katz
Other Name:
Alexander Katz
1926, Vienna, Austria
2010, Kibbutz Ga’aton, Israel
Painter, illustrator, caricaturist
Golden Pencil – 2007 - Israeli Cartoon Museum
A cartoonist and caricaturist best known for his illustrated children’s books and his courtroom sketches of the Eichmann trial.

Shmuel Katz was a well-known Israeli cartoonist, caricaturist and illustrator. Born in Vienna, he immigrated to Israel in 1947 and was a founding member of Kibbutz Ga’aton where he lived for the rest of his life. Shmuel Katz's work, including prints and watercolors can be seen online and in museums, including the archives of Yad Vashem.


[edit] Background

Shmuel Katz was born in Vienna, and after the German Anschluss (take over) of Austria, his family fled to Budapest, Hungary. He carried on his education until 1944 when he was deported to a forced labor concentration camp, Miskolz, in Yugoslavia. He managed to escape and returning to Budapest, passed the rest of WW2 under the protection of the Swiss delegation in the famous ‘Glass House’. After the war Shmuel Katz joined HaShomer Hatzair, one of the many youth movements who were part of the ‘Aliyah Bet’ – the illegal immigration to pre-state Israel. His ship was captured and he went sent to an internment camp in Cyprus to wait for a visa. In 1947 he was able to legally immigrate to Israel and was one of the founders of Kibbutz Ga’aton, in the Western Galilee.

[edit] Training

Katz began drawing in Cyprus, although his talent was recognized, his artistic talents had to be put on hold while he fought in the War of Independence and afterwards helped to develop the kibbutz. One of his creative designs for the kibbutz was the décor for the kibbutz dining room. In the early 1950’s Shmuel Katz illustrated a weekly children’s magazine, Mishmar Layeladim. Later the kibbutz sent him to Paris to study art at Beaux-Arts where he studied fresco painting as well as a range of printing techniques.

[edit] His Work

Shmuel Katz's kibbutz was part of the Kibbutz Artzi movement which had its own publishing house. It published hundreds of books using Katz’s illustrations, especially for its children’s books. Katz also produced a variety of celebration posters as well as propaganda encouraging people to vote, not to waste, not to profiteer etc.

Shmuel Katz always contributed fully to kibbutz life and never allowed his status as one of the country's major cartoonists and illustrators to interfere with his obligations to his fellow kibbutzniks. His editorial cartoons, caricatures and humorous appeared regularly in several daily and weekly newspapers for many years. His travels around East Africa in 1958 helped to influence his style and are reflected in his collaboration with Nathan Shaham to produce A Journey to the Land of Kush.

One of Shmuel Katz’s main contributions to Israeli history were the drawings and sketches he produced from the courtroom during the Eichmann trial in 1961.

In the ‘70’s, before the fall of the Shah, Katz traveled to Iran and on his second visit had an art exhibition in Tehran. He also traveled to Egypt and had a private audience with President Sadat.

[edit] Legacy

Shmuel Katz’s courtroom sketches of the Eichmann trial are held in Yad Vashem’s archives. Shortly before his death Katz donated his original drawings and sketches for children books to the Israel Museum's Study Collection of Illustrated Children's Books. Shmuel Katz’s work is much admired and one of his famous book covers – a drawing illustrating Leah Goldberg’s classic Flat for Rent was used for a postage stamp.

[edit] Awards

Shmuel Katz received many awards in his lifetime including the Nachum Gutman Memorial Award from the Tel Aviv municipality in 1985. In 2007 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Israeli Cartoon Museum - the Golden Pencil.

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