Realism, Realism And Expressionism In Käthe Kollwitz's Woman With Dead Child?

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Käthe Kollwitz, who lived from 1867 to 1945, was raised in Prussia and spent her adult years living in Germany as an artist and wife of a physician. During her lifetime she experienced vast social upheaval as a result of socialism, fascism and Nazism. The images she witnessed during working class revolts, civil unrest, World War I and World War II greatly impacted the art she created over her lifetime. Another factor which impacts all artist is the popular art movements of the times. Over Käthe Kollwitz’s seventy-eight years of life she lived through the popular art movements of realism, impressionism, post-impression and expressionism. Kollwitz’s famous etching of Woman with Dead Child prominently represent the styles of realism and expressionism. …show more content…
Expressionism became an illustration of emotions and was popular from 1900-1935. The art movement which grew out of Germany and Paris, increased with popularity as a civil unrest in Germany and World War I continued. Artist’s like Van Gogh took the freedom of the post-impressionism movement and added his own personal emotional expression to his painting. Other popular artist representing this era were Rembrandt and Picasso (Visual Arts, n.d). An expressionism image could have represented a subject born of realism or a subject born of impressionism but the content of emotion was always the artist’s main focus. Kollwitz’s images were undoubtedly examples of realism however the movement and emotion she was able to create in the content of her illustrations were purely expressionism. Kollwitz kept a diary throughout her life which she used for self-reflection in her work. She also created many self-portraits which act as a mirror into her psyche during each period in her life. Woman with Dead Child is one of these self-portraits. Her images and diary have been considered by many as “a therapeutic handling of the traumatic events in her life...” (Knafo, n.d). When she created Woman with Dead Child, these traumatic events included the death of several of her siblings when she was a child and the depression of her mother as a result of losing her children. Kollwitz also absorbed the traumas and the unfairness of life inflicted on the women of the working class. Her life had been steeped in death and war, which the emotions of her woman and the image of the dead lifeless child clearly reflect. Kollwitz not only used her image to expose her emotions to herself, she also used her image to bring the public’s attention to the raw emotions of workings class citizens, specifically the women and children suffering the losses of their children because of the social culture, civil

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