Ali Ulvi, Caricaturist of Cumhuriyet Newspaper which is published in Turkey, Doesn’t Live Any More.

He used to create the poem of the drawing

Atila Özer

“Humour: As the pioneer of the common sense of people at past and future, humour saves its society from being “ridiculous”. It prepares the prior conditions of contemporary society which unites administrators and people in both intentions and implements, and fulfils this function with smiling modestly.” (1)

The considerable caricaturist of the generation of 1950, Ali Ulvi Ersoy, whose sense of humour I quoted above with his own words, doesn’t live any more. Ali Ulvi, who used to work at Cumhuriyet newspaper, left us at 1998, January 30th. By drawing caricatures daily since 1950, he was an inseparable part of the newspaper. I wonder if there is someone else who works such in any publication institution. The only interruption in his work at Cumhuriyet was for his travel to USA at 1957-59. He was offered both transfers from other important newspapers and much more earnings than his salary at Cumhuriyet, but he always refused these offers and said “I can’t see any other newspaper of which the sense of humour matches to that of mine.”

Ali Ulvi Ersoy was a person who paid attention to any subject, who researched anything which made him curious, and who continuously read. Molecular biology, atom physics, philosophy, economics, history, religion, sociology, arts… He used not only to read books about all these fields but also to discuss these books when he came across with someone who is interested in. He said, “an caricaturist has to know these fields well”.

Many people who see the crooked drawings and anatomically deformed characters in magazines and newspapers can dare to say that illustration is simple and anyone can do it. But not every courageous can carry out those drawings which can replace with an article of thousands of words. If it were so easy, the number of professional caricaturists around the world today wouldn’t be only near 5000.

After Ali Ulvi Ersoy’s a caricature about a hourglass was published, Melih Cevdet Anday wrote an article at Cumhuriyet newspaper. (2) The article was trying both to analyse the caricature of Ali Ulvi and to tell the relation between an ostrich and sand.

“The sand which symbolises the timelessness in desert, comes to be the time itself in a strange measure; and an animal which is neither a bird nor a camel and has been made fun of, loses the real essence of its presence due to this magnificent metamorphosis of sand…

…We can’t see what’s happening in front of us, because the events cover our faces like a sandstorm. Our eye opens again when the artist puts them in his funnel. Not exaggeration, but reduction. I think the art which makes this reduction best is illustration.”

The whole of this article, which we made a short quotation, is of one hundred seventy words. As 250 words in 12 points fit into a normal book sized page, this article makes 4.5 pages. Ali Ulvi fit the theme that Melih Cevdet told in 4,5 pages to a half page as a caricature.

Today it would be appropriate to evaluate the caricature in two types. The first type is exaggerated, has many inscriptions, aimed at entertaining and has a lack of permanency. Examples of this type can be seen at the most in the humour magazines. The second type which we can name as “art caricatures” are long-life caricatures which have no inscriptions, not exaggerated at all and aimed at making people think more than entertain them. Some name this second type as “Humoristic Drawing” and some as “Graphic Humour”. Ali Ulvi Ersoy was an artist who generally drew caricatures of the second type. Furthermore, he was not much effected from the disadvantage of being a newspaper caricaturist. People who watch just a part of his illustrations in Cumhuriyet (unnecessarily to watch all of his works of fifty years) would realise how deep ideas had he.

Ali Ulvi Ersoy used to regard caricature as more privileged than the other branches of art. “Form in art is just a hoarding, an arrangement. With a more sophisticated and strong notion, it is ‘plan’. But the essence in art is not the theme or what is been told, it’s merely the perception of the theme by the artist; and the content is what the artist takes from his theme and what he adds to it. That’s it. Now let’s talk about caricature. The caricaturist first forms his theme with humour. And then he forms the theme that has been formed with humour for a second time with drawing. Let’s call the first one as “interior form” and the second one as “exterior form”. For the permanent, of good quality caricature, these two forms are the aim. Namely, the permanent caricature in itself, takes its beauty from its way of describing, the relation among its elements of humour and drawing. That’s why it is permanent.” (3)

People who know him by his caricatures would certainly mention him with approval. But people who meet with his humanist side, who learn his philosophy, his interests, his interpretation of the events from himself would realize how doubles their admiration and they mention him in a different way.

I am one of them who know him face to face. I think I’m very lucky because of I had the pleasure and pride of knowing him in this aspect. I first met him when he came to Eskişehir. He came due to the invitation of Anadolu University and made a speech to the students of the Faculty of Communication. Then we were together again when he was selected ” The Caricaturist of the Year” in Ankara. I experienced many of his features while those four days. He had said that he wanted to give the animated cartoons which he produced with a few friends of him and hold at his home for years to Anadolu University. He had said that he liked our university very much and stated his happiness for the illustration and animation was taken into the university education program as courses. The films he gave to our university are in the important document status for our national animation history.

Ali Ulvi Ersoy was the poet of the drawing. He used to create poems of drawing. Melih Cevdet said, “Poem is the art of creating unknown speeches with the known words”. But there are so many people around who assert that they’re making art just by playing with the words. The same is valid for caricature, too. Some play with the drawings and some like Ali Ulvi make the art of it.

Nevertheless, Ali Ulvi believed that not all of his caricatures were work of art. He particularly mentioned the impossibility of making art every day at a newspaper. “Caricature is an art of graphics. It requires careful drawing and a well plan. What I want to do is to load a permanent element to caricature.

I mean to create a humour that will remain the future via the principles of the arts of humour and drawing….” These were what he said, but he didn’t publish a book for the future. In his life, he didn’t hold any personal exhibition. He would almost got lost among the pages of the newspaper. The Caricature Foundation selected him as “The Caricaturist of the Year” and published a book of him in 1996. Now what remains from him is just that book. (Later, Cumhuriyet published a book.)

He said, “I have to choose my good caricatures and collect in a book.” He refused all the offers by thinking “there is still time to do, I’ll do it later.” I guess he never thought that he would die. The things he wanted to draw hadn’t have finished yet…

He doesn’t exist anymore. His place in Cumhuriyet is empty now. Despite the fact that it’s been five years, no one can dare to fill the place of him.


(1) Ersoy, Ali Ulvi. “Kapalı Devrede Mizah”, Karikatürler, Ali Ulvi, Karikatür Vakfı Yayını, Ankara; 1996.
(2) Anday, Melih Cevdet. “Kum Saati”, Cumhuriyet gazetesi, İstanbul; 19.11.1982.
(3) Ersoy, Ali Ulvi. “Gazete Karikatürü, Karikatür ve Sanat Üstüne Aykırı Düşünceler”, Karikatürler, Ali Ulvi, Karikatür Vakfı Yayını, Ankara; 1996.
Ali Ulvi karikatürler, Çağdaş Yayınları.

Source: Yeni Akrep, January 2003 Year: 1 Issue: 4