Thursday, 25 March 2010

Berlin Artists - Kathe Kollwitz

If you're in Berlin, on not too much of a come down and are serious about art then this might just be the ticket. I took two friends who appreciated yet were slightly bamboozled by the dark sadness of German artist Kathe Kollwitz. Born Käthe Schmidt Kollwitz (July 8, 1867 – April 22, 1945) she studied drawing with the support of her father from a very early age, the death of her siblings, her son and grandson have greatly influenced her work. From the very beginning there was a desire to focus on the more base elements of life and the earthier social economic groups.

Her work entitled The Weavers garnered the attention of the art darlings nominating her for the gold medal of the Große Deutsche Kunstausstellung to which the German Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm refused, which caused great controversy and in turn provided more attention. The Weavers was inspired by an eponymous play by Nobel Prize winner Gerhart Hauptmann, which explores the failed revolt of the Langembielau weavers in 1842. Kollwitz produced six pieces of work for the series entitled Poverty, Death, Conspiracy, March of the Weavers, Riot, and The End they follow the cycle of the play and highlight the macabre plight which ensues.

March of the Weavers.

Throughout her life, Kollwitz remained steadfast in her beliefs, she produced anti-propoganda works which renounced war, a pacifist, socialist (with communist leanings) she eventually succumbed to Nazi power and removed from her position as head of faculty at the Berlin Academy of Arts (Akademie der Künste). After watching her husband die in 1940, her Grandson Peter was killed in action in 1943 and she eventually passed away just before the end of the war.

‘Nie wieder Krieg’ (No More War), lithograph, 1924.