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Art against dictators – Exhibition of the caricatures of the artist Josef Čapek

The International Tracing Service (ITS) opened an exhibition of drawings and caricatures by the Czech artist Josef Čapek in Bad Arolsen yesterday evening. The latter had vehemently turned against the National Socialist dictatorship at an early stage with his artistic and literary work. "Čapek rebelled with the pen – and paid for it with his life", said Dr Susanne Urban, Head of Research at ITS. "His caricatures do not just provide information on National Socialist Germany, but also about the mechanisms of a dictatorship and the hate sowed by it." The exhibition "Josef Čapek (1887-1945) – drawings and political caricatures" can be seen until 27th October 2011.

"Artistic freedom is moral responsibility at the same time", was Čapek's claim. In the shadow of the developments in National Socialist Germany and fascist Italy and of the Spanish civil war, he turned more intensively to political caricatures from 1933. "Freedom, rights, justice must be preserved and defended everywhere in the world; if this does not happen somewhere, they are threatened everywhere in the world", wrote Čapek in 1938 in his aphorisms "Written into the Clouds". On 1st September 1939, the artist was arrested by the Gestapo in Prague and spent almost six years in German concentration camps. He died in Bergen-Belsen shortly before the liberation of the camp.

The exhibition developed in cooperation with the Čapek Society shows caricatures from eight different areas and creative periods of the artist. They are complemented by text panels on his life and the historical background, as well as reading folders containing documents on Čapek from the ITS archives.

This year, the ITS exhibitions are dedicated to the subject of resistance. "The aim is to show courses of action and to encourage people to not simply accept injustices", explained Urban. "Čapek’s works show how easily people let themselves be tempted to follow ideologies and leaders. We, however, would like to contribute to people accepting personal responsibility and showing respect towards their fellow human beings."

"Josef Čapek (1887-1945) – drawings and political caricatures"

Duration of the exhibition: 30th August until 27th October 2011

Place: ITS, Schlossstraße 10, 34454 Bad Arolsen

Opening hours: Tuesday until Thursday 9:00 until 16:30 and

Saturday, 3rd/17th September and 8th/22nd October, 10:00 until 14:00,

closed on Mondays, Fridays and Sundays

Booking of exhibition talks: telephone 05691 629-159, e-mail historical-research@its-arolsen.org

Further information: www.capek-gesellschaft.de