"Left without a boot" (Krokodil #32, 1943). Cartoon depicting Adolf Hitler after the Allied Forces had invaded and conquered Italy in 1943, leaving Hitler without the help of one of his Axis Forces. A portrait of deposed dictator Benito Mussolini can be seen on the left. 

Yuliy Ganf (also written as "Yulii Ganf") was an Ukrainian-Russian graphic artist, poster designer and political cartoonist. He was one of the most prominent illustrators in the satirical magazine Krokodil. His 1953 anti-war cartoon, 'This Restaurant Serves Only One Person', later gained popularity on the Internet.

Early life and career
Yuliy Abramovich Ganf was born in 1898 in Poltava, Ukraine. His younger brother Joseph Abramovich Ganf (1899-1873) was also a graphic artist and poster designer. Between 1917 and 1920 Ganf studied Law at the University of Kharkov, while also working as a painter and sculptor in the studio of Eduard Steinberg. Between 1922 and 1924 he was a student at the Soviet state school VKhUTEMAS in Moskou. After graduation he illustrated children's books for Detgiz too. As a book illustrator he livened up the pages of a reprint of Charles Dickens' classic novel 'Martin Chuzzlewit'.

During his studies the Russian Revolution broke out in 1917, changing Russia from a Czarist monarchy into the first Communist republic in the world.  In 1918 the Russian Telegraph Agency was established, often shorted to "ROSTA". It was part state news agency, part propaganda production. They made "Okna Rosta" ("Rosta Windows"): stenciled pamphlets featuring propaganda drawings, cartoons and comics with text in captions. Most focused on topical events, unavoidably promoting the Communist regime. Together with fellow artists like Viktor Deni, Dmitry Moor, Nikolai Kogout, Alexey Komarov, Alexander Mikhailov Rodchenko and Mikhail Cheremnykh, Ganf made countless cartoons and posters which glorified Lenin and the Soviet Union and demonized capitalism, monarchy and organized religion. Others were more educational in nature and informed peasants of the benefits of learning to read and write, modern industry, basic hygiene, vaccination and health care. His illustrations appeared in publications like Pravda, Bezbozhnik, Krasny Perets and especially Krokodil.

In 1938 he made a satirical painting, 'A Lesson In Visual History' for the exhibition '20 Years of the Red Army'. In 1941, when Hitler invaded Russia and Stalin organized a counterattack, Ganf made many patriotic motivational posters in support of the Soviet army, ridiculing the Nazis. After the war Ganf remained one of the house cartoonists of Pravda and Krokodil.

'In America - At This Restaurant Only One Person Is Served' (Krokodil #4, 1953).

This Restaurant Serves Only One Person
In issue #4 of 1953 (10 February) of Krokodil, Ganf made a cartoon titled 'In America - At This Restaurant Only One Person Is Served'. It shows a restaurant where various business people serve piles of money to a hungry soldier, representing "War". In the background four other customers, Education, Health Care, Libraries and Art wait in vain for service. This powerful and timeless critique of government and business spending on military defense gained more prominence in the Internet age. However, its original anti-capitalist and anti-American context is usually ignored or ommitted by shortening the title to 'At This Restaurant Only One Person Is Served'. This is not just a result of many people being unable to read Russian. Usually just the image itself is shown, without the captions. Ganf's talent is such that even outside the Cold War context and without captions, the cartoon is instantly understandable. One can even argue that the situation depicted in the drawing is universal, rather than tied to just the United States.

In 1945 Ganf received the title "Honoured Artist of the RSFSR" for his motivational cartoons glorifying his country's defense against Hitler's invasion of Russia during World War II. In 1964 he was honoured as a People's Artist of the USSR. At the International Exhibition 'Satire in Fight for Peace' (1970) the artist received a "Figher for Peace" medal.

Death and legacy
Ganf passed away in 1973 in Moscow at age 74. His cartoons and propaganda posters can still be seen in various Russian art museums and state collections. Fellow artist Dmitry Moor praised Ganf's work: "Ganf masters aquarrelling with such ease and skill that one forgets the technique and focuses on the most important element - the content."

'An Old Tale in the Washington Way' (Krokodil #7, 1957).

Series and books by Yuliy Ganf in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:


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