Käthe Kollwitz at the GRI
|Käthe Kollwitz, The People, before 1923. Getty Research Institute. Gift of Dr. Richard A. Simms in honor of Hildegard Bachert. (c) Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York|
As shown here, the Simms collection is both an album of greatest hits and a mixtape of rarities. There are multiple states of famous prints as well as preparatory drawings and rare rejected versions that, in many cases, are finished works of art themselves, radically different from the released images and sometimes in a completely different technique. It's an astutely chosen private collection that provides a broad and candid record of an artist's creative process. (Kollwitz's Berlin home and studio was bombed in 1943, and much of her work was lost.)
The first gallery shows Kollwitz's early work, primarily etchings and culminating in The Weavers (1897) and the Peasants' War (1908). Kollwitz's genius was early recognized by Adolf Menzel and Max Liebermann. But Kaiser Wilhelm II objected that awarding a gold medal to a woman (for The Weavers) "would be going too far." Not for nothing was one of the founding Guerrilla Girls an ape-masked "Käthe Kollwitz."
|Käthe Kollwitz, Sharpening the Scythe, 1905|
|Käthe Kollwitz, Hunger, state XV of XV, 1925. Getty Research Institute. Partial gift of Dr. Richard A. Simms (c) Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York|
Nazi Germany revoked Kollwitz's status as the first woman in the Prussian Academy of Arts. The Gestapo threatened to send Kollwitz and her husband to a concentration camp. Kollwitz however refused offers of a safe harbor in America. She died in Germany, 16 days before the war ended.
"Käthe Kollwitz: Prints, Process, Politics" runs through March 29, 2020, and travels to the Art Institute of Chicago.