With Remembrance Day this Sunday, it’s a fitting time to spotlight the art of renowned 20th-century German artist Käthe Kollwitz. An advocate for women, children and the poor, Kollwitz also spoke out against suffering. A second rotation of Kollwitz’s work, created during what she called the “unspeakably difficult years” of the First World War and its aftermath, is on view now in our exhibition Käthe Kollwitz: Voice of the People.
Kollwitz’s son Peter died on the battlefield in 1914, a few weeks after the war began. While suffering the loss of her son, Kollwitz also saw the heartbreaking effects of war, poverty and illness in her working-class neighborhood in Berlin. Her drawings, prints and sculptures reflect these difficult realities.
“Sunday marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, and this timely exhibition looks at Käthe Kollwitz’s response to suffering in the period following the end of the war,” says Brenda Rix, the AGO’s Manager, Marvin Gelber Print & Drawing Study Centre. “Through her work she exposes the hardships of poverty, unemployment, hunger and child mortality, and her iconic woodcut series War catalogues the tragic experiences of women and children in the aftermath of the conflict.”
A highlight of the exhibition is the work, Mothers. The subject of the piece was explored in both a woodcut print and a sculpture; it portrays a group of women huddled together to protect their young. Kollwitz designed around forty sculptures in her lifetime and only a small number have survived to today. The AGO is home to one of the largest collections of Kollwitz’s work outside of Germany, thanks to a generous gift of over 170 works in 2015 by Dr. Brian McCrindle.
Watch the video below to learn more about this powerful exhibition.
On Wednesday, November 14 at 7 p.m., join Brenda Rix at Käthe Kollwitz: Facing the Truth, a talk in Jackman Hall that will explore Kollwitz’s art through self-portraiture and the autobiographical nature of this artist’s powerful work. Tickets are available online now.
Käthe Kollwitz: Voice of the People is included with General Admission and is on view until March 3. The exhibition is on Level 1 in the Linda & Bob Krembil Pathway (Gallery 124), the Walter Trier Gallery (Gallery 139), the Nicholas Fodor Gallery (Gallery 140), and Gallery 141.
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