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Kathe Kollwitz

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Alex Snepvangers

on 4 June 2013

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Transcript of Kathe Kollwitz

By Alex Snepvangers Kathe Kollwitz Who Is Kathe Kollwitz? Kathe Kollwitz is an artist from Konigsbeng, East Prussia (now Kalliningrad, Russia), She was born on July 8 1867, and depicted the plight of the poor and denounced the atrocities of war through her artworks. She started art classes early, at age 12, she made copies of historical artworks. She had an early interest in working class people and their lives, as she lived in Germany, when there were many poor people, and the suffering there was very great. She then continued her studies in Berlin, where she developed print making skills with woodcuts, etching and lithographs. Kollwitz turned to etching and lithography to depict social issues. Her marriage in 1891 to physician Karl Kollwitz, and his medical practice in a poor, working class section of Berlin further exposed her to a wide range of suffering and tragedy which would become the subject of her work over the next fifty years. She produced a series of works reflecting her concern with the themes of war, poverty, working class life and the lives of ordinary women. How Does Kathe Kollwitz create artworks? German artist Käthe Kollwitz created her prints by experimenting with different printing techniques. She was interested in innovative techniques using lithography. She created lithographs by drawing in crayon on stone. In creating a lithograph the stone is etched, wetted down with water, and an oil-based ink, so it does not stick to which didn't stick to water based surfaces was added, then a press was used to make paper prints. As a German Expressionist (someone who lived in Germany and made a social comment, about what needed to be fixed, thorugh their artworks), she was interested in creating artworks that distorted the proportions of the people to emphasize their suffering.

Käthe Kollwitz’s Inspiration (1905) (see below), is an example of the way Kollwitz
has chosen different intaglio printmaking techniques to
create an image. This image shows how the rough texture
of lines is a metaphor for the harsh, life of the peasant
women who are the subject of the print. Why does Kathe Kollwitz choose methodologies? Kathe Kollwitz chooses different methodologies including drawings (mainly about death) prints, and all her posters and sculptures. By understanding Kollwitz use of technique we can see the how she uses them to enhance her metaphors. When living in a poor part of Berlin, Kathe Kollwitz observed the suffering of the many poor people in her neighbourhood. She created her drawing and prints and chose the printing techniques to try and capture the mood of the people, and their sadness through using black and white tones in most of her works. The darkness and shadows as well as the subject matter were deliberately chosen by Kollwitz to highlight darkness and the poverty and social existence of the people. The way that the compositions were created by Kollwitz shows the way she drew people using dramatic poses to show their struggles and suffering. For example, in “Need or Misery” (1895-6) she has selected a section of a room and created a scene of misery, using monochromatic tones of black and white and emphasizing the man with large hands held tightly on his head. She uses thick and dense sections of black lines, as a drawing technique, that have been cross-hatched as a metaphor for the sad and black mood of the artwork. When in history is Kathe Kollwitz creating her artworks? Kathe Kollwitz is creating her artworks during the late 19th Century and early 20th Century. This was a period of modernism, and when there was a lot of German Expressionism. Where is the artist located and how does this influence their artmaking? Kathe Kollwitz was born in East Prussia, which is now Kalingrad in Russia. She spent her early years in Russia, but then moved to Germany at 12, where she was shocked with the social conditions of Berlin. The current conditions in Germany, at the time Kathe Kollwitz was practicing, influenced her artworks immensely. These conditions were:
-The poor social conditions in Germany during the late 19th and 20th centuries. This included such things as poverty, injuries, sickness, death, high unemployment, class structure, the rights of women...etc.
-When living in Berlin, Kathe Kollwitz lived in the poorer part of the city. Letting her experience the full, and harshest strain of the poverty, pain and hardship that people had to go through.
-WW1 influenced her artmaking. War, fighting and uprising were very common and significant in her artworks. Germany was in the thick of the war, and it was evident in where Kollwitz was located. War and its effects can be seen in her artworks.
-Her son, Peter was killed during WW1. This was a personal event in Kollwitz life, that went on to shape her artmaking. It contributed to her works which involve the pain that women (mothers) have to go through when losing a child. Continued... -Protectiveness is very evident in Kathe Kollwitz' art making. In the time of the late 19th Century, and early 20th Century, things were harder to accomplish, and the world was a lot more dangerous. Kathe Kollwitz saw this, and used it as a key theme in her artworks; the protectiveness an adult has over his/ her child.
-The treatment of women in the time she was practicing was not as it is today. Women are not treated equally or fairly, and suffered a lot more than men did. This can be seen in her artworks with the gaunt, hunched over figures of women in her artworks; who look like they have nothing left to hope for.
-With her husband being a doctor, she got to see what people (especially women) had to go through. Kollwitz thought that this was appaling, and decided to make a social comment through her
-Women were the main caretakers of the children in her time period and felt the most grief when they could not care or take care of their children, or their children got sick and/or died. This is very evident in her artworks.
-Another event that influenced her artwork, that was directly proportional to where she lived was that, when Hitler came to power she was kicked out of the academy of Berlin, where she was studying, because her art was classified as degenerate. This happened because she was living in Germany, and Hitler did not want others to see what it was really like in the working class, and ordinary parts of Germany.

She used many of these issues in the subject matter of her artworks, they were her main focuses. Most of her artworks were quite grim, reflecting these images. How does this influence the methodologies the artist was using? The events that were happening in history influenced Kathe Kollwitz' art making a great deal. Some of the things that influenced her, I have mentioned before. These conditions I mentioned, were allocated to her time, and the time that she was practicing. Kollwitz's sculptural work was shaped by her experience of motherhood and by the death of her younger son Peter in the early months of World War I. Kollwitz created three-dimensional artworks to show how the darkness has overtaken the people at the time of the first world war. One of her sculptures is a monument to a World War I battlefield where her son died. Her statues and sculptural methods of carving show the subject matter of grieving parent, which actually commemorate the dead of both sides. By choosing a monumental sculpture, that will last a long time, she is able to create a permanent record of the suffering that looks similar to official sculptures, yet she is emphasizing the futility of war. By the 1920s, Kollwitz was using historical events, personal experiences and religious images (eg: Mother and Child) in her prints to create a commentary on human suffering and the human condition. She had a number of basic poses that she used with printmaking techniques and methodologies to convey complicated feelings that reflected the times in which she lived. She wanted to draw attention to the social conditions of the time, which she did through dark and tonal methods of printmaking. What methodologies did Kathe Kollwitz use? The three different intaglio printmaking techniques: etching, aquatint and stippling were, all used in ‘Inspiration”. The different techniques and methodologies chosen by the artist allow for mistakes, to be easily incorporated into the design of the artwork. For example, the methods chosen by Kollwitz are appropriate for the subject matter because they offer a range of thick, textures lines and a lot of different ways to show thick, heavy lines as well as contrasting cross hatching in dark and light tones. Kollwitz uses the techniques and methods with great effect to create powerful images.Etching is a chemical process. In etching techniques, lines are drawn onto a metal plate. When ready to print, the plate is covered in chemicals called a “ground”. A ground is a compound made up of printmaking inks and other substances. The plate was then soaked in a chemical bath where the chemicals react to the unexposed lines and create the etching. Any mistakes or changes that the artists wanted to make could easily be covered up by adding more “ground”. The method of etching creates a think surface texture, which is different to other types of etching,, such as dry-point or engraving (which produces finer lines).Aquatint is another printmaking methodology that gives a slightly different effect, as dust (usually asphalt) is put onto the plate at different times in the process, so that different shades or tones are produced. Often different amount of the dust are used to create a different effect on the artwork. These techniques were both useful for Kollwitz, as she wanted to show a range of lines and shades in monochromatic (black and white) tones. Stipple engraving is another etching technique, where a lot of dots are cut into the “ground” to create design and texture. This printmaking method uses dots to build up a textured surface, rather than lines.
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