The drooping eyes look tired, about to fall shut. There are deep shadows under her eyes and her hair hangs in flat streaks to both sides of her face. However, despite her weariness, her mouth is set determinedly and her chin raised in confidence.
This is a self-portrait of Käthe Kollwitz (1867 – 1945), a German artist most known for her depictions of the working class, war and poverty. Her drawings and prints show human suffering caused by injustice and oppression, sickness and death caused by poor living conditions. Her work is expressive and galvanising.
After the loss of her son during WW I, she produced a series showing the reality of war. She saw the fight of nations against nations as “criminal lunacy” and fought for peace with her artwork.
Her work was met with opposition especially after 1933, when the Nazi government forced her to resign from the Academy of Art and banned her work from exhibitions. Even though she was once threatened with incarceration, this did not stop her from working.
She suffered losses and made sacrifices, the constant struggle and fear must have been exhausting – yet she kept going. She was a strong woman and an inspiration to be remembered.
Artwork: Käthe Kollwitz, Self portrait, lithography, (unknown year).