Prussian-born Käthe Kollwitz developed an aesthetic vision centered around the plights of workers and peasants, and especially women of the working class. In an art world dominated by men, Kollwitz was excluded from the Academy and educated instead at a Berlin art school for women. Here, she studied the prints and writings of Max Klinger. This inspired her to take up printmaking rather than painting, allowing her to effectively convey her message and distribute it widely. Her work is emotionally profound and communicates the social atmosphere in Europe in the early years of the 20th Century. Stylistically, Kollwitz diverged from the Expressionists and was the first of the German Social Realists to develop during and after the First World War.


Kollwitz’s works became very popular throughout Germany and the Western world through the first few decades of the 20th century. However, the Nazi government viewed her work as controversial and in 1933 forced her to resign from her position as the first female professor at the Prussian Academy and forbade her from exhibiting her art. Despite these challenges Kollwitz continued to make art and became increasingly interested in producing sculpture in her later years, especially after seeing Rodin’s work on a trip to Paris.

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