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An Enemy to Fascists: The Powerful Artwork of L.J. JORDAAN

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Leo (L.J.) Jordaan was a Dutch anti-fascist artist and political cartoonist who was living and working in Amsterdam at the time of the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in 1940.

Prior to the invasion, Jordaan has been working for the magazine Green. The Nazi occupiers shut down the magazine, along with most of what could be called a free press — always an enemy to fascists — and Jordaan took his work to underground publications.

Jordaan had a powerful graphic style, emphasized by his use of both dark and light hatching. He showed the Nazis as bringers of death, terror, and pestilence to his beloved Netherlands, and was particularly harsh on Dutch fascist sympathizers, who he portrayed as shooting loyal Dutch in the back.

His most famous image was “De Robot” (images above, third from the bottom), which portrayed the Nazi war machine as an unstoppable robot trampling Dutch soldiers beneath its metal boots. It was published in the underground newspaper De Groene Amsterdamme (“The Green Amsterdamer”) during the occupation.

His portrayal of Hitler as a brooding Lucifer (above, second from bottom) seems to give a nod to Gustave Doré’s image of the Ninth Circle of Hell. The image of Christ in thorns above him refers to an image I’ve seen before, but I don’t actually know its origin. It may be a Gothic or early Renaissance icon.

In the image above, bottom, we find Jordaan mocking the Nazis’ attempt to appropriate Dutch culture — and Rembrandt in particular — as part of “Aryan Heritage”.

Jordaan survived the occupation, and after the war became a noted film critic.

Images via Dr Tenge

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