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George Galloway leads tributes to ‘genius’ cartoonist killed at Finchley Road Tube station

Leon Kuhn. Leon Kuhn.

Thursday, December 26, 2013
1:00 PM

Tributes have been paid to a “genius” political cartoonist who died at Finchley Road Tube station.

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George Galloway described Mr Kuhn as a "genius". Picture: PA Archive/Lewis Whyld.George Galloway described Mr Kuhn as a "genius". Picture: PA Archive/Lewis Whyld.

Leon Kuhn, 59, was pronounced dead at the station, in Finchley Road, just after 12.45pm last Thursday after being struck by a southbound Jubilee line train.

In the wake of his death, family, friends and figures from the world of art and politics have lamented the loss of a tireless left-wing campaigner.

George Galloway, leader of the Respect Party of which Mr Kuhn was a member, told the Ham&High: “I am devastated by this news. Leon was a wonderful and committed artist and underneath a dry exterior was a truly funny and warm man.

“He was a genius at work and we in Respect are all saddened by this news.”

Mr Kuhn, of Goldhurst Terrace, West Hampstead, was a regular contributor of cartoons to daily left-wing tabloid newspaper the Morning Star.

He also contributed work to the New Statesman, Socialist Worker, New Internationalist, Green Socialist, as well as the News on Sunday.

Mr Kuhn was born in Golders Green and grew up in Hendon with his brother Philip - the pair attended Lyndhurst House School, in Lyndhurst Gardens, Hampstead, before moving onto University College School (UCS) in Frognal.

During his time at UCS, Philip, a poet and historian, edited the school magazine Compass and published cartoons of teachers drawn by his brother.

He said: “They sent an electric shock through the school when we printed them. To have senior school masters lampooned in the way he did was vicious.

“I loved his work and was a great admirer of it. He was very talented from a very young age.”

In later years, Mr Kuhn’s biting depictions of former prime minister Tony Blair during the height of the Iraq War protests gained worldwide acclaim.

Renowned photomontage artist Peter Kennard, 64, said: “Leon had a very deep sense of humanity. He felt the inequalities in the world very strongly, he almost felt it personally.

“He had a feeling that art could be something you could change people’s ideas through and make people think about what was going on.”

Chris Bird, a friend of Mr Kuhn’s for the last 25 years, struck up a relationship with the cartoonist through their work together as part of the opposition movement to Margaret Thatcher’s poll tax.

He said: “He was a very modest person. He didn’t aspire to make money out of his art, it was a socialist vision that was his driving force.”

Elaine Chambers, another friend, said: “I’m going to miss him very much. He was a very loving, caring, kind and thoughtful person. It was too soon for him to go.”

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