Two of America's best-known political cartoonists are
currently being honored with public exhibitions in the nation's capitol. Pat
Oliphant has been producing humorous sketches of Washington's most powerful
figures for 53 years. His work is prominent in newspapers across the United
States. Oliphant's contemporary, Herbert Block - better known as
"Herblock" - died in 2001, but not before etching himself into the
hearts of millions with his cartoons. VOA's
George Dwyer recently took in tributes to these two popular American
cartoonist Pat Oliphant is best known for his satirical portraits of
Washington's most powerful figures. Now a new exhibit called "Leadership:
Oliphant Cartoons and Sculpture from the Bush Years" is putting the full
range of his talent on display.
Adrienne Jamieson is Director of Stanford
University's Stanford in Washington program, which is hosting the exhibit. "I
think Pat Oliphant, like a handful of other great political cartoonists in this
country and elsewhere, is an equal opportunity satirist," Jamieson said.
"I have always found it very interesting that you can talk to folks in
either party at the full range of the ideological spectrum and they will all
tell you that they admire his work, even if they have been the subject some
time of his satire."
The exhibit features everything from notebook sketches to
wall murals and even sculpture - like a bronze sculpture of former U.S.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. But it is his political cartoons that have
made Oliphant famous.
says that - far from being offended - most politicians welcome the attention,
"If you are somebody who has been depicted by Oliphant - either in one of
his cartoons or sculptures, or one of the wonderful large panels in this
exhibit - you know that in some sense that you have made it. You are on the
radar screen in the Washington community," Jamieson said.
cartoon offers a distinct political insight into U.S. policy. And that is also
true of another exhibit now on display at Washington's National Portrait
Gallery. The original drawings by the cartoonist known as Herblock span
seven decades of American history - sketching out the sometimes-inflated egos
of presidents from Franklin Roosevelt to Bill Clinton. Curator Syd Hart says
Herblock was consistently respectful of the office of President, if not always
(Herblock) is in that long tradition of cartoonists who poke fun at government
officials, are critical of government officials if they feel that they are
doing something wrong or not doing what they ought to do," Hart said.
In fact he
says, Herblock felt it was his duty to point out the personal shortcomings of
America's most powerful political figures.