Kathe Kollwitz - Prints, Process, Politics Louis Marchesano

Getty Publications -
Publication date:
07 Jan 2020
Getty Publications
196 pages: 291 x 246 x 25mm

German printmaker Kathe Kollwitz (1867-1945) is known for her unapologetic social and political imagery; her representations of grief, suffering, and struggle; and her equivocal ideas about artistic and political labels. This volume explores her most creative years, roughly the late 1890s to the mid-1920s, highlighting the tension between making and meaning throughout her work. Correlating Kollwitz's obsessive printmaking experiments with the evolution of her images, it assesses the unusually rich progressions of preparatory drawings, proofs, and rejected images behind Kollwitz's compositions of struggling workers, rebellious peasants, and grieving mothers. This selected catalogue of the Dr. Richard A. Simms collection at the Getty Research Institute provides a bird's-eye view of Kollwitz's sequences of images as well as the interrelationships among prints produced over multiple years. The meanings and sentiments emerging from Kollwitz's images are not, as is often implied, unmediated expressions of her politics and emotions. Rather, Kollwitz transformed images with deliberate technical and formal experiments, seemingly endless adjustments, wholesale rejections, and strategic regroupings of figures and forms-all of which demonstrate that her obsessive dedication to making art was never a straightforward means to political or emotional ends.

Louis Marchesano is former curator of prints and drawings at the Getty Research Institute, and now the Audrey and William H.|Helfand Senior Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.