Käthe Kathe Kollwitz Women of War collection essay essays world war peace print printmaking drawing sculpture scma smith college museum of art

Käthe Kollwitz and the Women of War, SCMA Exhibit Catalogue

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Käthe Kollwitz and the Women of War: Femininity, Identity, and Art in Germany during World Wars I and II.

The art of German printmaker and sculptor Käthe Kollwitz (1867–1945) is famously empathetic; Kollwitz imbued her prints, drawings, and sculpture with eloquent and often painful commentary on the human condition, especially the horrors of war. This insightful book, the first English-language catalogue on Kollwitz in more than two decades, offers a singular opportunity to examine her work against the tumultuous backdrop of World Wars I and II. The societal cost of war became an enduring subject for Kollwitz after her youngest son died on the battlefield in Flanders in 1914.  She dedicated much of the remainder of her career to creating images that questioned the efficacy of war, exposed its devastation, and promoted peace. The essays discuss the motifs she developed in this pursuit—young widows, grieving parents alongside maternal figures that serve as defenders, guardians, activists, and mourners—within the context of German visual culture from 1914 to 1945.

Smith College Museum of Art curated an accompanying exhibit, MOTHERS’ ARMS, which included more than 50 objects placing Kollwitz’s work in political, historical and cultural context. Posters, prints, sculptures and diary excerpts were drawn from SCMA’s permanent collection as well as loaned from private and public collections, 

  • Edited by Claire C. Whitner
  • Essays by Henriëtte Kets de Vries, Darcy C. Buerkle, Anjeana K. Hans, Joseph McVeigh, and Annette Seeler
  • Published 2016, in collaboration with Davis Museum at Wellesley College
  • 140 pages, softcover

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