Portrait of the artist: Käthe Kollwitz, British Museum - FREE - ★★★★ - Until January 12, 2020


As a woman and as an artist Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945) was a powerful figure. She established herself in an art world dominated by men and didn’t shrink from depicting raw emotion and human suffering. This exhibition brings together 48 prints - her work is rarely seen in a such a large display. The cumulative effect is almost overwhelming. Her aesthetic vision was largely based around women and the working class. It was often inseparable from politics and protest. But the personal tragedy of her son Peter’s death in WWI also fed into her work. Though made in 1903, the "Woman With Dead Child" prints seem to predict that loss. Indeed, the mother and child subject frequently reappears, culminating in her "Pietà" of 1939. The war also featured in the arresting "Krieg" series of woodcuts from 1923. Her self-portraits and the late "Call Of Death" are unblinking. Kollwitz was an innovative printmaker who would boldly experiment and combine techniques. Drawings and sculpture were also produced, always conveying intense emotional power. Her work portrays an underclass, usually urban, but it also shows the rural poverty in the "Peasants' War" series. It constantly reminds us that all societies have a darker side and that compassion for others is essential.

Reviewed by A.L.

 Our Score:  ☆☆☆☆ 

WHEN, WHERE, GETTING THERE:
Until January 12, 2020
Sun - Thu: 10 am - 4 pm, Fri: 10 am - 7 pm
Room 90, British Museum
Nearest tube: Russell Square
https://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/exhibitions/portrait_of_the_artist.aspx

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