“I must do prints of death. Must, must, must.” -Kathe Kollwitz
The DeaTh SerieS by Kathe KollwitzAn artist unlike any other of her time…
Kathe Kollwitz (July 8, 1867 – April 22, 1945) German painter, printmaker, and sculptor. Work offered an account of the human condition, and the tragedy of war. Her work was based first in Naturalism, and later in Expressionism. She was 16 when she began drawing working people.In 1888 she realized her strength as a draughtsman (drawing). In 1891, Kollwitz married Karl, a doctor who tended to the poor in Berlin.
Kollwitz lost her youngest son, Peter, in WWI in October 1914, and she suffered depression.She made a monument for Peter and his fallen comrades titled The Grieving Parents in 1932. In July 1936, she and her husband were threatened by the Gestapo to be moved to a concentration camp. The couple resolved to commit suicide if such a prospect became inevitable.
As WWI wound down and an appeal was made for old men and children to join the fighting, Kollwitz implored in a published statement:"There has been enough of dying! Let not another man fall!"
She outlived her husband, who died from an illness in 1940. Her grandson died in action in WWII two years later. She was evacuated from Berlin in 1943.Later that year, her house was bombed and many drawings, prints, and documents were lost.
Her reaction to war found a continuous outlet in her art.One of her "mother and child" pieceswas used by the Nazis for propaganda. Kollwitz died just before the end of WWII on April 20, 1945.
In the mid-1930s she completed her last major cycle of lithographs, The Death Series. • Woman Entrusts Herself to Death • Death with Girl in Lap • Death Reaches for a Group of Children • Death Seizes with a Woman • Death on the Highway • Death as a Friend • Death in the Water • The Call of Death