Käthe Kollwitz Works on Display in Johnson Center Gallery

Posted: December 5, 2003 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Etchings by a German expressionist record the tragic struggle of Germany from the beginning of the social revolution in the 19th century, through two world wars and a depression. “The Weavers” features 27 prints by Prussian artist Käthe Kollwitz in the Johnson Center Gallery. The show is on display through Dec. 19, and is organized by the Virginia Museum’s Statewide Exhibitions Programs, Office of Statewide Partnerships.

“Käthe Kollwitz was one of the most outstanding German women artists of the first half of the 20th century,” says Egon Verheyen, Clarence J. Robinson Professor of the Humanities. “Drawings and lithographs are predominant in her work, but she also was a sculptor. For Kollwitz, art was a means of social engagement. Her themes were predominantly the poor, the downtrodden and the forgotten. With her art she fought for social justice and against war.”

In pre-World War II Germany, this manifestation of her political views did not go unnoticed. “Not surprisingly, after Hitler’s rise to power, she was expelled from the academy that had accepted her in 1919 and conferred upon her the title of professor,” Verheyen continues. “For the last 12 years of her life she was forbidden to exhibit her work. This exhibition concentrates on works executed between 1892 and 1921.”

“The art of Käthe Kollwitz reflects the turbulent times in which she lived,” says Eileen Mott, coordinator of the Virginia Museum’s Statewide Exhibitions Program. The George Mason show includes examples from her first major series, “The Weavers,” which grew out of a performance Kollwitz saw about the revolt of the Silesian weavers in 1844. The etchings in the exhibit are restrikes, printed from the original plates after the artist’s death in 1945.

The Gallery is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Fridays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and by appointment.

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