Kathe Kollwitz

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Kathe Kollwitz

Kathe Kollwitz was a German expressionist who lived from 1867 to 1945, her humanitarian representations invoked intense compassion towards the suffering of those conventionally unseen and she utilised art to emphasize political issues which continue to be relevant. She was an artist who was gifted, yet simultaneously cursed, with a burdening empathy for humanity. This endowment led her, along side with a series of hardships, to a life that was saturated in sorrow. At a very young age she witnessed the death of a younger brother, then first handed experienced the rise of Hitler in the First World War and Second World War, and subsequently lost both her son and grandson to both wars. She was not unaware of her woeful perspective, even when she had attempted to turn herself towards joy with her life and work, she found joy to be unobtainable as her life was seemingly brimming with bad luck. As she wrote in her journal: “How can one cherish joy when there is really nothing that gives joy?”1 Although, her sorrow wrought life and work proved that they were not in vain; as her unabridged honesty in her work led to anti-war propaganda, the pioneering of women’s suffering being displayed in art, and her insatiable focus on the working class enlightened all amongst all classes of the gulfs which separate social status. She was a master at showcasing man in his darkest hours from the prospective of the sufferer, inspiring a worldly compassion deep into the veins of all humanity.

She began drawing at a young age and her father, Karl Schmitt, was a constant force in the development of her art. He recognised her talent from early on and encouraged the growth of her skills through lessons and moral support. He worked as a builder and Kathe would join him at work and draw his workmates, a practice that would echo throughout her life. Her father had strong…...

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