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Liberty in Totalitarian Eclipse

Provocative satirical pictorial map, addressing the varying levels of control of free speech exercised around the world, drawn by William Henry Cotton.

The map illustrates the nature of governments based upon 3 types:

  • Dictatorial Control of the Agencies of Public Communication
  • Varying Degrees of Control, Censorship and Intimidation
  • Relative Freedom from Official Supervision

The commentary below the map is instructive on its world view, identifying "ten adult bipeds, each equipped with distended ego and outsized adrenal glands, whose ten totaled brains wouldn't counterbalance that of one Einstein in the measurement of man's distance from the anthropoid ape."

Of note, Cotton has adapted and satirized Deal Carl Ackerman's contemporary "map of the black plague in the 20th Century" for this work

As noted by the PJ Mode Collection of Persuasive Cartography at Cornell University website description for this map:

A powerful satirical commentary on totalitarian control of speech from the first issue of Ken Magazine. "Caught here in all their peculiar beauty by the soul searching stylus of W. Cotton, Ken holds up for wonder the mangy motley pack of little 'strong men' who are now leading the world on a backward march to the Dark Ages. . . . In effect, over more than half the world, Liberty is now in totalitarian Eclipse." Each country is characterized by the degree of "dictatorial control" over communication. Each of the totalitarian leaders is named and shamed ("His Blood-red Loneliness, Nobody's Comrade, Stalin").
Ken was a controversial anti-fascist magazine, first published in April 1938. It was distinguished by unusual and powerful graphics like this one and a number of articles on the Spanish Civil War by Ernest Hemingway. The magazine failed in August 1939 as a result of wariness by advertisers and a boycott by the Catholic Church (Baptista 2009, 109-115).

William Henry Cotton

William Henry Cotton (1880 - 1958) was an American portrait painter, caricaturist, and playwright. Cotton studied painting with Joseph DeCamp and Andreas Anderson at the Cowles Art School in Boston, and then at the Académie Julian in Paris with Jean-Paul Laurens.

He was a founder of the National Association of Portrait Painters and a member of the Newport Art Association. Cotton exhibited at the National Academy of Design in New York City, the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Saint Louis Art Museum. He was also invited by the government of France to exhibit at the Musée du Luxembourg. In 1916, he was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Associate Academician.

After a successful career as a portrait painter, he began working as a caricaturist for Vanity Fair in 1931 and for The New Yorker the following year. In 1931, the New York Repertory Company produced a comedy he wrote, "The Bride the Sun Shines On", at the Fulton Theatre in New York.

He also painted mural decorations for New York City theaters, including the Capitol, Apollo, Times Square, and Selwyn theaters.