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Käthe Kollwitz: Prints, Process, Politics

Edited by Louis Marchesano

German printmaker Käthe Kollwitz (1867–1945) is known for her unapologetic social and political imagery; her representations of grief, suffering, and struggle; and her equivocal ideas about artistic and political labels. This volume explores Kollwitz’s obsessive printmaking experiments and the evolution of her images, and assesses the unusually rich progressions of preparatory drawings, proofs, and rejected images behind Kollwitz’s compositions of struggling workers, rebellious peasants, and grieving mothers.

This selected catalogue of the Dr. Richard A. Simms collection at the Getty Research Institute provides a bird’s-eye view of Kollwitz’s sequences of images as well as the interrelationships among prints produced over multiple years. The meanings and sentiments emerging from Kollwitz’s images are not, as is often implied, unmediated expressions of her politics and emotions. Rather, Kollwitz transformed images with deliberate technical and formal experiments, seemingly endless adjustments, wholesale rejections, and strategic regroupings of figures and forms—all of which demonstrate that her obsessive dedication to making art was never a straightforward means to political or emotional ends. 

This volume was published to accompany an exhibition on view at the Getty Research Institute at the Getty Center December 3, 2019, through March 29, 2020; and the Art Institute of Chicago May 30 through September 13, 2020.

Louis Marchesano is former curator of prints and drawings at the Getty Research Institute, and now the Audrey and William H. Helfand Senior Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Winner of the 2021 Alfred H. Barr Jr. Award

“A very accessible publication, offering smart and well-researched texts.”
—Christina Weyl, Woman's Art Journal

“Laid out in this book, which includes insightful commentary by a selection of scholars brought together by print curator Louis Marchesano, are processes of decision-making, refinement, augmentation, resulting in an outlining of procedures that are rarely visible.”
Times Higher Education 

The Modern Art Notes Podcast

196 pages
9 1/2 x 11 inches
176 color illustrations
ISBN 978-1-60606-615-7

Getty Publications
Imprint: Getty Research Institute