Azim Azimzade was born into the family of an oil industry worker at Novxanı village in the Baku Governorate of the Russian Empire (present-day Azerbaijan) in 1880. He received no artistic education and was self-educated. Beginning in 1906, he published paintings concerning social and political issues in magazines. Due to that Azim Azimzade became the founder of Azerbaijani satirical graphics. Azim Azimzade actively participated in revolution, was the manager of culture department of enlightenment of People’s Commissariat of Azerbaijan.
Caricatures took an important place in creative heritage of Azim Azimzade. Development of this genre is closely related to “Molla Nasraddin” magazine. The magazine passed an interesting creative way during its existence period for many years (1906–1931). The first issue of a magazine was released in Tbilisi, in April 1906. Its publisher was a talented writer-publicist Jalil Mammadguluzadeh, who took the Eastern wise man Molla Nasraddin’s name as a pseudonym. “Molla Nasraddin” was the first satiric magazine in whole Muslim East at that time. It was created under the influence of liberation ideas of the first Russian revolution of 1905. After the revolution, from 1922, “Molla Nasraddin” magazine’s edition was renewed. From this period began the productive cooperation of Jalil Mammadguluzadeh with Azim Azimzade. Azim Azimzade became the chief Artist of “Molla Nasraddin”. His creativity determined artistic character of the magazine, where his paintings and caricatures took an important place. He could notice subtly and accurately transmitted gestures, motions, poses of his personages.
In Baku was opened home-museum of the Artist. Street in Baku and Artistic School of Azerbaijan, where he taught from 1920 till the end of his life and from 1932 till 1937 was its Director were named after him and a museum is dedicated to his works. In 2002, a monument to the Artist was erected near Heydar Aliyev Palace, in Baku.
In 1923, he became a member of the CPSU. In 1927, Azimzade was awarded an honorary title of People’s Artist of the Azerbaijan SSR. It is considered that Azimzade evaded political repressions due to his acquaintance with Mir Jafar Baghirov, the first secretary of the Azerbaijan Communist Party, who was admirer of the artist’s creativity.
In 1927, Azim Azimzade created colorful illustrations for fairytales for children in “Wild ox” poems of G.K.Sanily. In 1937, an album “Shadows of the past” with 26 paintings, locating in double-page spreads of pages was published. In these pictures the author revealed scenes before spectators from provincial life of a capitalist city, saving features of feudal relations.
In 1930’s, thematic series with plot consist the main part of the artist’s creativity. The best genre watercolors of Azim Azimzade are “Scenes of old life”, “Ramadan of the rich people”, “Ramadan of the poor people”, “Wedding of the rich people”, “Wedding of the poor people”, “Dog baiting”, “Daughter was born”, “Purchase of wife”, “Old wife and a new one”, “Husband beating his wife” and others. Emotionality of many lists of Azimzade depends on successful color resolution. Color of his watercolors gives a good mood, simplifies perception of depicted scene.
Most popular caricatures were “Lion and kitten”, “Face of fascism”, “Trophies of Führer”, “Delusion of grandeur”, “Trumped cards”, “Watchdogs of imperialism”, “Shadows of barbarians”, “Wolf to wolf”, “Inevitable guests of fascist Germany” and others. In “Lion and kitten” (1941) caricature Hitler was ridiculed, comparing himself with Napoleon. There is inscription on the lion’s back: “Battle of Borodino”, on the head bandage with words: “Moscow, 1812”. Martial courage of the cat said that, he learnt nothing from the lion’s defeat. In “Trumped cards” (1942) cards were thrown on green pigeonhole of playing table in disorder, on which were portrayed Hitler and his fellow fighters with a little bit likeness.
With his creativity Azim Azimzade made a great contribution to development of the Soviet antifascist caricature of wartime. In 1942, continuing his work in the sphere of book graphics Azim Azimzade created colorful illustrations to folktale “Khoruz” (Cock), in which was narrated about the cheerful cock, which triumphed shah. Azim Azimzade won’t live till the Great Victory – he died in the prime of his life in 1943, at the age of 63.
In watercolors describing everyday life, such as “Kos-kosa” (humoristic folk performance), “Jumping over bonfire”, “Separation of property”, “Rope walker”, “Puppet theatre” were shown customs of that time. In such compositions as “Wedding of the rich people” and “Wedding of the poor people” Azimzade reveals the idea of social inequality by means of contrasting confrontation of everyday life’s peculiarities, wedding ceremonies and religious holidays at different classes of the society.