Thursday, April 4, 2013

Inspiration: Käthe Kollwitz

Käthe Kollwitz, Lithograph, Tod (Death), 1897
Käthe Kollwitz, Etching, After the Battle (Schlachtfeld), 1907
I recently took a stone lithography class with Devraj Dakoji at the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop (RBPMW) and he has been (patiently) helping me print my stone from that class. I am very much a novice lithographer but I have been so inspired by the work of Käthe Kollwitz that I knew her work would act as a guide as I put litho crayon to stone.

Kollwitz's masterful use of shadow and light to evoke emotional responses to the plight of the people she depicts is as visually powerful today as it was over a hundred years ago. Her artistic subjects were derived from her world, what was going on around her: war, famine, disease and the gut-wrenching sorrow seen in the human condition during very difficult times.

I admire everything about Kollwitz's work: her ability to expertly render her subjects with empathy combined with a skillful hand, her expertise as a printmaker using the medium to maximize the dramatic and visceral reaction intended for the viewer, and her devotion to relaying the wrongs that she felt compelled to reveal through her art.

The two works above are a couple of my favorite pieces of Kollwitz's, especially the poignant etching, After the Battle, which by showing very little through use of a bit of light, speaks volumes about the poor woman on the battlefield searching for her loved one. I get chills and endless inspiration from this piece. Kollowitz's lithograph, Death, was my launching point for what I was trying to achieve with my own lithograph, The Road, shown below. I debated even showing my novice attempt at lithography but I thought it might be more relevant to a post about inspiration if I showed what the inspiration lead to.
So here is my humble and first lithographic homage to Käthe Kollwitz:

© 2013 Elana Goren
Lithograph, The Road