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Tumultuous effects of 2 World Wars

Käthe Kollwitz’s drawings and etchings

A reflection of the tumultuous effects of two World Wars

Käthe Kollwitz was born on 8th July and died on 22 April 1945. She was an extremely skilled and versatile German artist who worked with painting, printing, (including etching, lithography and woodcuts), drawing and sculpture. Her career spanned the First and Second World Wars and her most renown works depict the effects of poverty, hunger and war on the working class.

Praying Woman, 1918

Käthe Kollwitz, Praying Woman, 1918. Crayon and Ink on paper. 14.5 x 15.8 cm

The work of this great artist is charged with expressive qualities. I can’t help being moved by the tragedy that she manages to communicate with her works. Praying Woman shows a woman intently praying. This image carries a message loaded with desperation and sorrow.

The aggressively drawn marks in this drawing are expressive and jagged and carry a disparate emotional charge. The background is dark and foreboding.

Woman with Dead Child, 1903

Käthe Kollwitz, Woman with Dead Child, 1903. Etching on paper

This is a gut-wrenching image. The line quality of this etching is sensitively executed. The figure of the mother and dead child become one in this melancholic moment of mourning. This is a most moving depiction of the after-effects of war and poverty on the domestic front. The angular posture of the two figures give heightened drama to the depiction of the unfolding drama of the death of a loved one.

Self Portrait, 1943

Käthe Kollwitz, Self Portrait, 1943. Charcoal drawing on paper

This is a beautiful self-portrait. It evidences Kollwitz drawing skill at its best. She shows herself as an aged artist with the lines of tragedy etched on her face. The image depicts both her strength in her use of solid, dark lines and her fragility where her face is treated with delicate, fine lines in a manner that is somewhat transparent in quality. This image communicates a sense of the tragedy of her human experience in a most powerful way. Her self-portraits are mirror images of her soul.

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