08 April, 2008

Politically committed poster art

14 March to 22 May 2008

Artists intervene
Politically committed poster art from Picasso to the present day

from the collection of the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg

Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

Two world wars and the propaganda posters of the former Eastern Bloc countries have shown that posters are an ideal medium of political debate. Present-day election campaigns also regularly illustrate this fact. It is probably less well-known that in the course of the 20th century artists have also learnt to exploit this medium – rarely, however, for propaganda purposes, but rather to “intervene” actively, to give effective expression to their views.

After the First World War Expressionist artists such as Schmitt-Rottluff and Pechstein designed election posters summoning voters in the young Weimar Republic. Käthe Kollwitz actively supported peace and social causes, but, in the final analysis, these were to remain isolated cases. In1949/50 Picasso reached an international public with his doves of peace, which was was the signal for numerous artists to use posters to give expression to their political views.

This exhibition will present different individual perceptions of the history of the last 50 years and will confront visitors with unexpected issues and exhortations to political action.

Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln
Neumarkt 18-24
50667 Köln



Käthe Schmidt Kollwitz (July 8, 1867 – April 22, 1945) was a German painter, printmaker, and sculptor whose work offered an eloquent and often searing account of the human condition in the first half of the 20th century.

In 1933, after the establishment of the National-Socialist regime, the Nazi Party authorities forced her to resign her place on the faculty of the Akademie der Künste. Her work was removed from museums. Although she was banned from exhibiting, some of her work was used by the Nazis for propaganda.

Working now in a smaller studio, in the mid 1930s she completed her last major cycle of lithographs, Death, which consisted of eight stones: Woman Welcoming Death, Death with Girl in Lap, Death Reaches for a Group of Children, Death Struggles with a Woman, Death on the Highway, Death as a Friend, Death in the Water, and The Call of Death.

In July of 1936 she and her husband were visited by the Gestapo, who threatened her with arrest and deportation to a concentration camp; they resolved to commit suicide if such a prospect became inevitable.[26] However, Kollwitz was by now a figure of international note, and no further actions were taken. On her seventieth birthday she "received over one hundred and fifty telegrams from leading personalities of the art world", as well as offers to house her in the United States, which she declined for fear of provoking reprisals against her family.[27]

She survived her husband (who died in 1940 from an illness), and her grandson, Peter (the son of her oldest son Hans), who died in action during World War II (in 1942).

She evacuated Berlin in 1943. Later that year her house was bombed, and many drawings, prints, and documents were lost. She moved first to Nordhausen, then to Moritzburg, a town near Dresden, where she lived her final months as a guest of Prince Ernst Heinrich of Saxony.[28] Kollwitz died just before the end of the war.

Kollwitz made a total of 275 prints, in etching, woodcut and lithography. Virtually the only portraits she made during her life were images of herself, of which there are at least fifty. These self-portraits constitute a life-long honest self-appraisal; "they are psychological milestones".[29]


i went to cologne to see this museum, now its online, take the tour, - if you are a printmaker visiting europe dont miss this.




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