Käthe Kollwitz is known above all for her haunting Expressionist character studies and harrowing images of human torment. Living in the midst of poverty and misery with her doctor husband Karl Kollwitz in the working-class district of Prenszlauer Berg she was a close and constant witness to human hardship.
The collection exhibited in this former town residence on the elegant Fasanenstrasse consists of over 200 prints, lithographs, drawings, woodcuts and sculptures. Highlight exhibits include the 1924 poster “Nie Wieder Krieg” (War Never Again), her lithography “Brot” (Bread) from 1924, an anti-hunger statement and a commemorative woodcut dedicated to Karl Liebknecht, a revolutionary socialist assassinated in Berlin in 1919. Her self-portraits (1888 to 1938) are of particular interest as is the woodcut series “War” from 1922-23 and her cycle of eight lithographs entitled “Death”, a theme she was to return to until 1942.
Kollwitz’ haunting subjects included motherhood tinged with suffering ‘Mutter Courage’, caused by tragedy in her own life: the death of her son, Peter, in Flanders in 1914 and her grandson in WWII. Persecuted by the Nazis, she was expelled from her post as Head of the Master Class for Graphic Arts at the Prussian Academy in 1933. From 1936 onwards she was no longer able to exhibit and her work was removed from museums and galleries. As a testament to Kollwitz’ enduring stance as an artist, her self-portraits reveal above all the extraordinary tenacity which made her work timeless.
English-language audio guides are available for a small extra charge.