[237120, A2] Wk 5: Task 3A – Essay Topic Research

David Low 'What, no chair for me'

“What, no chair for me?” Political cartoon by David Low, from the Granger Historical Picture Archives (Published 1938)

a) The image depicts a shadowy room with four men seated on chairs encircling a globe. Two of the men are dressed in military uniform, seated with legs crossed, chests jutting forward wearing pompous expressions. The other two seated in suits men appear dejected, hunched over in their seats with worn expressions.  A man stands in the doorway confronting the circle with arms crossed over his chest, seemingly patronising. A light shines behind him casting the intruder’s long shadow towards the ensemble, and in the background we see a map of what appears Czechoslovakia.

The characters are depicting in a satirical cartoon style, so it becomes clear to the viewer that the men in the room are caricatures of well-known individuals of the time. In this case, the manner of dress, hair and moustaches coupled with the expression of the subjects indicate they are contemporary politicians: (From the left) Chancellor of Germany, Adolf Hitler; French politician Édouard Daladier; British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain; Italian dictator Benito Mussolini; and dictator of the USSR, Josef Stalin.

b) To situate this image in its historical context, the cartoon was in direct response to the proceedings of the Munich Conference of 1938, wherein power over Czechoslovakia was to be given to the Rome-Berlin Axis in order to keep the peace, while the USSR were excluded from negotiations. This relates to Mirzoeff’s ‘The World of War’ chapter in that it shows the influence of worldview and power dynamics in map making. This is particularly relevant considering Mirzoeff extensively referencing the interwar period in his chapter and its role in shaping the technology of modern warfare.


David Low 'What, no chair for me' EDIT

Annotated: “What, no chair for me?” Political cartoon by David Low, form the Granger Historical Picture Archives (Published 1938)

d) This process has helped focus my research/essay direction by helping me practice applying contextual understanding to visual texts. By developing my visual literacy, I am better able to support arguments with visual examples. This is a tool that will continue to become relevant to me as a visual artist, in that it will enable me to gain more understanding of external influences. It will also improve my practice of evaluating my products to see where I may be able to improve. As someone most interested in the fields of concept art for media production, it will be an invaluable tool in honing my skills and understanding how best to apply my knowledge of visual texts as part of a design team.

Works Cited:

  • Mirzoeff, Nicholas. “The World of War.” How to See the World. United Kingdom: Penguin Random House, 2015. 101-127. Print.