July 8, 2017
Kathe Kollwitz (1867-1945), The Widow I, 1923, woodcut, 18 1/8 x 12 13/16 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of Donald Goodwall.
Käthe Kollwitz, a German Expressionist artist, was born on this day in 1867. She worked mainly in the graphic arts and was well known for her etchings, lithographs, and woodcuts, as well as her work in sculpture which she delved into later in her life. Kollwitz’s artwork was always rooted in the social issues and events of her day, and her expressive black and white depictions of these struggles resonated deeply with the German public. After WWI and the death of one of her sons in the war, Kollwitz’s art became a powerful therapeutic tool in processing the effects of that conflict.
This woodcut by Kollwitz is one of her post WWI artworks that processed the effects of the war. The Widow I depicts one of the many grieving widows of the time. Although not a widow yet herself, Kollwitz liked to depict life as she saw it around her and she especially focused at this time on portraying women in their different roles in post-conflict society, like as protective mothers or grieving widows, as is the case in this woodcut.