self-portrait Self−portrait,1922
24.2 x 17.7 inches
Courtesy of the CSULB Library Special Collections

Implacable Witness: Käthe Kollwitz Graphic Works

June 20−August 6, 2006

The UAM presents Implacable Witness: Käthe Kollwitz Graphic Works, an exhibition examining the etchings, lithographs, and woodblock prints of this extraordinary German artist. Curated by UAM Associate Director Ilee Kaplan, this project explores Kollwitz’s signature themes—social injustice, rebellion, poverty, parents and children, and a rigorous scrutiny of her own visage.

Throughout her long career (1867−1945), Kollwitz advocated social and political change through her intense and powerful graphic works. Kollwitz’s first etching series’, The Weavers and Peasant Wars, describe the revolution of the working class in 18th century Germany. As her work developed, Kollwitz strove for greater simplicity both in the image and in the message. Using strong patterns of dark and light as well as concise linear work, she repeatedly explored themes of human suffering.

Kollwitz lost one of her two sons in World War I and a grandson in World War II. She endeavored through numerous graphic works and sculpture to visualize her grief and the grief of all parents at the death of their children.  She was the first woman elected to the Prussian Academy of Art in 1919. In 1937, Kollwitz’s work was included in the infamous Degenerate Art exhibition organized by the Nazi Regime. She died in 1945. Kollwitz’s legacy of unforgettable prints, drawings, and sculptures are a timeless protest against the evils we impose on each other and the sufferings of humankind.

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