Käthe Kollwitz is revered in her home country, Germany, and around the world for her drawings, prints, and sculptures. Over the course of a five decade career, which included two world wars, Kollwitz’s subject matter focused on the lives and hardships of marginalized women. Given the turmoil and suffering of women and children around the world today, her powerful images resonate with an uncanny timeliness.
Käthe Kollwitz (1867–1945) was a leading 20th century German artist known for her drawings, prints (woodcuts, etchings, and lithographs), and sculptures. At a time when opportunities for women were limited, her achievements were extraordinary, especially as a printmaker in a field dominated by men. Over her long career, Kollwitz tackled difficult subjects and became an advocate for women’s rights and for the poor. She created prints and posters that protest war, poverty, hunger, and child mortality. Today, she is recognized as a strong, empathetic voice at the intersection between art and activism.
Kollwitz is often linked to the German Expressionists, but her bold and distinctive figural style and strong socialist convictions set her apart from any clearly defined art movement. Her art was a reflection of her own experiences, which included the tragic loss of her son Peter in World War I. In addition to self-portraits, themes in her work relate to the lives and suffering of poor women, the intimate relationships between mothers and children, humanitarian and social justice issues, and her ongoing dialogue with death.
This extraordinary publication examines the richness and depth of Kollwitz’s work with more than 100 colour reproductions of her prints, drawings, and sculptures, drawn from the comprehensive collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Also included are essays by Brenda Rix on Kollwitz’s life and her preoccupation with self-portraiture and an essay by the donor Dr. Brian McCrindle on building the Kollwitz collection.