Kathe Kollwitz uses a theme of war, pain and poverty in her work, for both paintings and sculptures. Having to live and survive in poor places through her life, she would portray people around her that are suffering poverty and war.
Woman with Dead Child
Her style is very dark, creating figures on brown paper using black pens and charcoal presents dark feelings and sadness. Black colour has not got any feelings unlike other colours like red or yellow, its dull and timeless like black and white photographs. This Piece is called”Woman with Dead Child”, Kollwitz tended to draw real people, she must have seen a scene like this and portrayed it, her technique is very realistic you can see the muscle tones and really detailed shapes. The piece shows a person holding a child, we know from the title that its a woman with a child she lost, even if we did not know the title we could still recognise that there is a feeling of sadness in the work because the way the woman is holding the child, she holds it so close to her body with love, sadness and desparation even if the child is dead she still wants to feel it as in it still was alive.
Etching and drypoint
Kollwitz seems to portray tragedy, poverty and sadness very well using darkness, often in the chiaroscuro effect. On this Sketch we see four figures, two standing by the windows, one by the bed an one in the bed. Looking at the surroundings its very dark, the only light comes from the window, around you seem to have basic tools, nothing of value. In the foreground you have a what it appears to be a child laying in the bed, very thin signifying a lack of food, above the child there is a woman. I can suggest that it could be the mother of the child, she is supporting her head with her hands as if tired or powerless. I am trying to say that the mother of the child is in pain to see it in such state of hunger, the child nearly looks like a skeleton. The point of this piece is to show what poverty was like in the eyes of Kathe Kollwitz. She creates the reality of people that we would not see in our times, not even in her times. Many artists were raised in good families and would concentrate their talent on beauty of the world but Kollwitz dedicated her talent into showing the opposite side of that reality. She exposes the pain, aguish and suffering of the human condition.
The technique she uses of ethcing gives a lot of lines, creates a harsh environemnt which gives the sketches a rough and cold look. When I look at those sketches the lines look sharp to me like it was all formed with wires that that would feel cold and would deal some pain. Maybe that was how Kollwitz wanted to present her work, being cold, harsh and painfull.
Etching and soft-ground ecthing
Other examples of her sketches show people fighting with each other, dying, coming back from work looking tired. One thing thats is the same in all those pieces is the darkness created by the lines, the dull black and grey life the people had to go through in those times allowing the artist to share her experience and allow other to see and feel what it was like.
Graphite pen and colored ink