Kollwitz "Solidarity, the Propeller Song."
Kollwitz "Solidarity, the Propeller Song."
Kollwitz "Solidarity, the Propeller Song."
Kollwitz "Solidarity, the Propeller Song."


Solidarity, the Propeller Song
Käthe Kollwitz
Lithograph 1931

One cannot discuss Expressionism without mentioning Käthe Kollwitz. This remarkable woman created some of the most moving, sensitive, and emotional works of the period. Her lithographs, etchings, woodcuts, and charcoal drawings were passionate calls against war and for workers solidarity.

This lithograph was created by Kollwitz to express solidarity with the Soviet People, who were being demonized by the Nazi Party. Kollwitz's call for solidarity between German and Soviet workers was an extremely courageous stance for her to take considering the fanatical anti-communism of the German right. Kollwitz never fled Germany, and by some miracle the Nazis did not throw her into a concentration camp to suffer the fate of other artists.

In 1935 the fascists had her thrown out of her teaching position at the Berlin Academy of Art in retribution for her having signed an "Urgent Appeal" against Nazism. She suffered other restrictions such as being forbidden to exhibit or sell her works, but otherwise the Nazis ignored her. Kollwitz became a socially conscious artist after she lost her son Peter in the first World War. From that point on she began to create works that were not only against war, but were against those who advocated and planned for war.

As a pacifist, Kollwitz was a passionate advocate of the working class, and there are few artists in history that have shown such a tender, authentic concern for the poor. Käthe Kollwitz worked primarily as a Graphic artist who was deeply engaged in printmaking, and her works appeared in many leftist publications in pre-Nazi Germany. In a terrible irony, it was not the Nazis who destroyed Kollwitz's art, it was the Allies.

The artist's home was hit by an Allied bomb in the waning days of the war and the great majority of her print works and drawings were destroyed in the explosion. Only a small portfolio Kollwitz carried with her survived. The artist died in Moritzburg Germany in 1945. Today the definitive collection of Kollwitz's work is housed in Germany at the Käthe Kollwitz Museum Koln (located in the City of Cologne). I had the immense pleasure of visiting the museum in the late 1990's, and if you ever visit that city the Kollwitz Museum should definitely be on your travel agenda. The museum has a web page that unfortunately is in German only, but the site provides some essential information nevertheless: www.kollwitz.de

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