The Great Cartoonist
Herluf Bidstrup is a Danish artist and illustrator who has mainly achieved fame in the former DDR and the Soviet Union. After training at the Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen from 1931 to 1935, he began a career as a satirical cartoonist with the Social Democratic daily press. His cartoons of Hitler and other Nazi leaders provoked several protests from the German embassy.
I have been drawing for as long as I can remember. Once I got a pencil or piece of chalk in my hand, I immediately began to draw, and sometimes even “draw” even with nothing.
Herluf Bidstrup. The Lord or the smile
During the German occupation of Denmark he supplied the underground press with anti-Nazi cartoons. In 1945 he joined the communist daily “Land og Folk” His favorite targets became the capitalists and militarism. As a communist, Bidstrup drew lots of cartoons on foreign policy and social themes.
In Denmark he gradually became isolated within an insignificant communist subculture, but his cartoons and drawings from travels in Eastern Europe. They received with enthusiasm in the Eastern bloc including the Soviet Union and China, where his fame and popularity have remained undiminished long after his death. In 1964 Herluf Bidstrup was awarded the international Lenin Peace Prize and was furthermore presented with the Order of the Red Flag of Labour.
The Soviet Union’s newspaper Prawdad has used his work as a symbol of workers’ fight against capitalism and imperialism. The DDR ran his cartoons in Neue Berliner Illustrierte and Wochenpost. Several book collections of his work were published by the East-German Eulenspiegel-Verlag since the 1950s, including ‘Das dicke Bidstrup-Buch’, that contains most of his comic strips.
He created many cartoons and comic strips on political subjects, but also ones depicting everyday life. Herluf Bidsrup cartoons remain remain topical after his death, because the themes that he raised, will always be important.
He died in 1988 and is buried in Lilleroed Cemetery in Copenhagen, Denmark.