British Cartoon Archive


Andrzej Krauze was born in a suburb of Warsaw on 7 March 1947. In 1967 he began studying painting and illustration at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Art, and in 1971, while still a student, he began contributing cartoons to the satirical magazine Szpilki and won first prize in a poster competition organised by the Polish National Theatre in Warsaw. He afterwards worked regularly as a poster-designer for the theatre until 1973, when he graduated - his diploma submission, an animated cartoon film entitled The Flying Lesson, being censored by the authorities.

After leaving the Academy of Fine Art, Krauze travelled to Paris and London, but in 1974 returned to Warsaw, where he continued contributing to Szpilki and began work as political cartoonist on the weekly magazine Kultura. The context was one of heavy censorship. "Your first censor was your editor," Krauze recalled: "All material was sent to a special office several days before publication and, if they stopped something, it was not only a problem for you but for your editor too. The editor had to be a member of the Communist Party and it was very important for him not to have too much material stopped. If this happened, he was in trouble."

Krauze became a well-known figure in Poland, and across Europe. In 1980 he went to Amsterdam, where he worked as an illustrator for the newspaper Handelsblad, and then moved to Paris, contributing to L'Express, L'Expansion, Lire and L'Alternative. When Martial Law was declared in Poland in December 1981 he was in London organising an exhibition. As he recalled, "I said to myself, if I am a political cartoonist this is my time": "I only had a one-week tourist visa to begin with, but after Martial Law I published a lot of drawings in English, American and French newspapers, and immediately it was impossible to return." Kultura was closed down under Martial Law, but Krause drew cartoons for the Polish trade union paper Solidarnosc. In 1982 he was awarded First Prize in the Forte Dei Marmi (Italy) political satire competition

In 1985 Krauze began supplying political cartoons and illustrations to the Finnish daily Aamulehti, and from 1986 to 1990 he designed posters for London's Old Vic Theatre under the directorship of Jonathan Miller. In 1988 he began contributing cartoons and illustrations to the New Statesman, adding the Guardian and Independent on Sunday in 1989. He simplified his style, and dropped the captions to his cartoons - a change hastened by the realisation that his English wasn't good enough for the British market. The result was very striking. Francis Wheen recalled that when he became the Independent on Sunday's diarist in 1990, he was amazed to find that in his accompanying illustrations Krauze "treated my diary stories as if they were fables by Aesop or La Fontaine, seeking out the essential moral or the universal theme and thus giving them a resonance and depth they scarcely deserved."

Krauze has also contributed to The Times, New York Times, International Herald-Tribune, Sunday Telegraph, Bookseller, Listener, New Scientist, Campaign, Modern Painters and others. In 1985 he was appointed Visiting Lecturer at the Royal College of Art, and in 1997 External Examiner in the Department of Illustration. In 1996 he won the Victoria and Albert Museum Award for Illustration.

  • Mark Bryant Dictionary of Twentieth-Century British Cartoonists and Caricaturists (Ashgate, Aldershot, 2000), p.133.
  • Stephen Moss "Arts: Spitting images", Guardian, 17 October 2001, p.12.
  • Francis Wheen "Lives and Letters: Master of His Art", Guardian, 8 March 2003, p.34.
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