Yak Attack

A place to unwind and spend some time yakking.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Let's Yak About Art.. it's been awhile

Blogging about Chris Harris' photographs got the arty fluids flowing.

Let's yak a bit about the art of Kathe Kollowitz. She was a printmaker, sculpter, drawer and artist extraordinaire. She chronicled the journeys of the poor, the edges of society, in Germany between the 19th and 20th century. You can read a biography of her life here.

One of her favorite mediums was lithography. This is what Lew does every day, making paper art with ink and water. Kollowitz used copper plates with her art etched in it, along with some various techniques, to create the texture she was seeking. Lew uses aluminium plates and computer files, along with some various techniques, to do the same.

Part of the print and drawing collection at the Portland Art Museum is a Kollowitz lithograph produced in 1921. It's titled Mothers (Mutters).

The first piece of a four part series by Kollowitz is titled Self Portrait with Hand of Death. It's a charcoal drawing dated from 1924. She went on to create a lithograph and a woodcut that use the same pose with some variance in the darkness on the prints. The links to these works on the Oberlin site don't have web addresses, so you'll need to click on the links that are below the picture of Self Portrait with Hand of Death. The last piece in the series, Call of Death, shows Kollowitz in a different pose with the hand of death nearing her face. In this lithograph, her features are almost obliterated by blackness. She created these works during a difficult time in her life, after her son's death in World War 1. Death and dying was a central theme to much of her artistic endeavors.

Her piece Lamentation: In Memory of Ernst Barlach, who died in 1938 is discussed here and beautifully photographed here. It's one of her metal art pieces, cast in bronze.

Besides witnessing societal oppression from poverty and experiencing personal grief through the death of her loved ones, Kollowitz was both ostracized and used by the Nazi regime. She was forced from the Prussian Academy of Arts by the Nazis, and her work was banned from exhibition due to her political leanings as a socialist and pacifist. However, they also used some of her work, like
Brot, in propaganda. She refused to cooperate with fascism, but she also refused to leave her country. Her grandson, her husband and she all died before the end of WW2.


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