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Sometimes pictures are more powerful than words and in Kollwitz art we find that to be true. Nothing that has been said about war especially WW2 matches the angst and passion in her work. The fact that she is so reverred in Germany tells you all you need to know about this incredible artist
Käthe Kollwitz (July 8, 1867 – April 22, 1945) was a German painter, printmaker, and sculptor whose work offered an eloquent and often searing account of the human condition, and the tragedy of war, in the first half of the 20th century. Her empathy for the less fortunate, expressed most famously through the graphic means of drawing, etching, lithography, and woodcut, embraced the victims of poverty, hunger, and war. Initially her work was grounded in Naturalism, and later took on Expressionistic qualities.
Kollwitz was a committed Socialist and humanist, fought against an unjust world with her eye and her hand. Her woodcuts, etchings, lithographs and charcoal drawings (all of which, not coincidentally, made her work affordable) are starkly realistic, yet show sympathetic compassion for victims of war, poverty and hunger. Though often categorized as an Expressionist, she predated the movement and never veered from her own style of Realism. She died, displaced, mere days before the end of WWII.
Käthe Kollwitz is a subject within William T. Vollmann’s Europe Central, a 2005 National Book Award winner for fiction. In the book, Vollmann describes the lives of those touched by the fighting and events surrounding World War II in Germany and the Soviet Union. Her chapter is entitled “Woman with Dead Child”, after her sculpture of the same name.
An enlarged version of a similar Kollwitz sculpture, Mother with her Dead Son, was placed in 1993 at the center of Neue Wache in Berlin, which serves as a monument to “the Victims of War and Tyranny”.
Artist Birgit Stauch depicted Kollwitz in a bronze bust displayed in the Käthe-Kollwitz-Schule in Esslingen, one of more than 40 German schools named after her.
Two museums, one in Berlin and Cologne, are dedicated solely to her work.