Kathe Kollwitz (German, July 8, 1867–April 22, 1945) was a painter and sculptor whose work was known for its depiction of the human condition, in often graphic detail. Kollwitz was born into a wealthy family in East Prussia, and began drawing lessons at the age of 14. She attended the Berlin School of Art in 1884, and later continued her studies in Munich, Germany. She studied in Munich with the painter Karl Stauffer-Bern (Swiss, 1857–1891).

Kollwitz’s earliest works are of working society, including sailors and peasants who she saw working for her father. Heavily influenced by painter Max Klinger (German, 1857–1920), her work often features dark and oppressive colors and subject matter. After marrying a doctor and settling in one of the poorest sections of Berlin, Kollwitz used her art to rail against what she saw as horrible social conditions for Germany's poor in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Much of Kollwitz's work is imagery of war, death, and social injustice. Throughout her life, most of her work would be connected to her own experience with pain and loss. She worked with a variety of mediums, but is perhaps best known for her drawings, woodcuts, etchings, and lithography. Initially her work was grounded in Naturalism, although she later moved on to Expressionism.

One of her well-known works is Woman with Dead Child (1903). In this etching, Kollwitz created large expanses of texture and tone using small dots in lines that were barely discernible. Many art enthusiasts believe that Kollwitz used a transfer technique to achieve this pattern. Another of her most famous works is Self Portrait, a 1924 ink wash on green paper. Her major collection is one entitled Peasant War, a group of Expressionistic works done from 1902 through 1908 that chronicle the uprising of Germany's poor. In 1920, Kollwitz was the first woman elected to the Prussian Academy of the Arts, and she took a place as a professor at Akademie der Künste in Berlin, Germany. She was forced to resign this position under Hitler's Nazi Regime in 1933. Because she did not support Hitler, her work was removed from museums. Her home was bombed in 1943. She remained in Berlin in spite of the dangers.

Kollwitz's works are available for purchase at hundreds of galleries around the world. Her work is on permanent display at several museums, including the Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago, IL, the Kathe Kollwitz Museum in Berlin, Germany, and the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, in New York, NY. The artist died on April 22, 1945.

Timeline

1867
Born in Königsberg, East Prussia
1884
Attended School for Women Artists, Berlin, Germany
1914
Death of youngest son Peter in battle; resulted in a prolonged depression and subsequent works based on WWI and her son
1919
First female member of the Prussian Academy, Berlin, Germany
1943
Work banned by the Nazis, Berlin, Germany
1945
Died in Moritzburg, Germany

Exhibitions

2012
Wilhelm Loth Und KÄthe Kollwitz, Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln, Cologne, Germany
2011
The Industrial Modern, MMoCA The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Madison, WI
2011
German Expressionism: The Graphic Impulse, MoMA Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NY
2010
Paris bezauberte mich - Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln, Cologne
2008
Transforming Reality, Galerie St. Etienne, New York City, NY
2007
Apocalypse Now: The Theater of War,CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco, CA
2007
Private Treasures: Four Centuries of European Master Drawings, The National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
2007
International Incheon Women Artist's Biennale 2007, International Incheon Women Artist's Biennale, Incheon, South Korea
2007
Body Politics: Figurative Prints and Drawings from Schiele to De Kooning, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN
2007
Was ist Plastik? 100 Jahre-100 Köpfe-Das Jahrhundert moderner Skulptur, Stiftung Wilhelm Lehmbruck Museum, Center of International Sculpture, Duisburg,Germany
2006
Prints and Drawings of Käthe Kollwitz, The RISD Museum, Providence, RI
2006
Die Kunst des Selbstporträts: Sammlung Leonie von Rüxleben, Kunsthalle St. Annen Lübeck, Lübeck
2006
Conflict and Art, Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, Stanford, CA
2006
Essay, Galerie St. Etienne, New York, NY
2006
Meisterwerke des 20. Jahrhunderts, Galerie Pels-Leusden, Berlin, Germany
2006
From Anxiety to Ecstasy: Themes in German Expressionist Prints, Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR
2006
Käthe Kollwitz, Kunstforum Ostdeutsche Galerie, Regensburg, Germany
2005
Self-Portraits: A Modern View. Works on Paper from 1900 to 1950, Musée des beaux-arts du Canada, Ottawa, Ontario
2005
25 Jahre Remmert und Barth, Galerie Remmert und Barth, Duesseldorf, Germany
2005
German Expressionism: Graphics from the collection of Muzeum Sztuki in Lodz, Muzeum Sztuki w £odz, Lodz
2005
Recent Acquisitions: And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market, Galerie St. Etienne, New York, NY
2005
Überblick 2005, Galerie Remmert und Barth, Duesseldorf, Germany
2004
Bilder von Kindern. Bildern für Kinder, Leopold Museum, Vienna
2004
German Expression, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, Den Haag, Netherlands
2004
Überblick 2004, Galerie Remmert und Barth, Duesseldorf, Germany
2004
Modern Means: Continuity and Change in Art from 1880 to the Present, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan
2004
Deutsche Druckgraphik: 20. Jahrhundert, Fred Jahn Studio, Kunsthandel, Munich, Germany
2004
Defiance Despair Desire: German Expressionist Prints fr. Marcia & Granvil Specks, Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI
1998
Becoming Käthe Kollwitz, Galerie St. Etienne New York, NY
1997
Käthe Kollwitz--Lea Grundig, Galerie St. Etienne New York, NY
1994
Käthe Kollwitz, Foundation Neumann Gingins and Vevey, Switzerland
1994
Three Berlin Artists of the Weimar Era, Des Moines Art Center Des Moines, IA
1994
Höch, Kollwitz, Mammen, Galerie St. Etienne New York, NY
1992
Käthe Kollwitz, National Gallery of Art Washington, DC
1991
Degenerate Art: The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Nazi Germany, Los Angeles County Museum of Art Los Angeles, CA
1990
Klinger, Kollwitz, Kubin, Galerie St. Etienne New York, NY
1989
Zwischen den Kriegen, Käthe Kollwitz Museum Berlin, Germany
1988
Atelier Gemeinschaft Klosterstrasse, Galerie Mitte Berlin, Germany
1988
Die Kollwitz-Sammlung des Dresdner Kupferstich-Kabinettes, Käthe Kollwitz Museum Cologne, Germany
1987
Käthe Kollwitz: The Power of the Print, Galerie St. Etienne New York, NY
1985
Käthe Kollwitz Handzeichnungen, Käthe Kollwitz Museum Cologne, Germany
1983
An alle Künstler! War-Revolution-Weimar, San Diego State University San Diego, CA
1981–1982
Käthe Kollwitz 1867-1945: The Graphic Works, Kettle's Yard Cambridge, England
1976
Käthe Kollwitz, Kennedy Galleries/Galerie St. Etienne New York, NY
1975
Käthe Kollwitz: Graphic Work, Stanford University Art Museum Palo Alto, CA
1971
Käthe Kollwitz, Tel Aviv Museum Tel Aviv, Israel
1967–1968
Käthe Kollwitz, Akademie der Künste Berlin, Germany
1965
Käthe Kollwitz Drawings, Galerie St. Etienne New York, NY
1947
Prints by Käthe Kollwitz, University of Chicago Chicago, IL
1943–1944
Käthe Kollwitz, Galerie St. Etienne New York, NY
1937
Degenerate Art, Circulated by the Nazis
1936
Berlin Sculptors - From Schlüter to the Present, Berlin, Germany
1925
Käthe Kollwitz, Civic Club New York, NY
1924
German Art Exhibition, Moscow, Russia
1917
Käthe Kollwitz zu ihrem fünfzigsten Geburtstag, Berlin Secession and other venues Germany
1898
Greater Berlin Art Exposition, Berlin, Germany

Public Collections

Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
Reading Public Museum, Reading, PA
The Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI
MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, MA