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Photo credit: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

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Title: Die Mütter (The Mothers), from the series War
Date: 1922-23
Medium: Woodcut on wove paper
Dimensions: Image: 13 1/4 x 15 3/4 in. (33.7 x 40 cm) Sheet: 17 3/4 x 22 1/8 in. (45.1 x 56.2 cm)
Credit Line: Gift of Robert and Joan Bechhofer
Object Number: 91.079.161
Label Text: “It is my duty to voice the sufferings of humankind, the never-ending sufferings heaped mountain-high. This is my task, but it is not an easy one to fulfill.”
—Kathe Kollwitz, 1920

Käthe Kollwitz, the first woman professor of at the Prussian Academy of the Arts, is one of the most important graphic artists of the twentieth century. Witness to both World Wars, the deaths of her brothers, son, and grandson, Kollwitz’s extremely bold and distilled print Die Mütter (The Mothers) was the final image in her War series (1922–23). The women’s weighty forms, chiseled and enlarged hands, and watchful eyes protect in all directions. In the center, a mother covers the eyes of a swathed infant. The artist turned to woodcut for bolder, compressed, and more direct images in 1914 after her son Peter was killed. Kollwitz’s works continue to confront universal suffering, the relationship between the mother and child, and how to represent historical cataclysm. ("This is no Less Curious: Journeys through the Collection" cocurated by Sonja Gandert, Alexandra Palmer, and Alana Ryder and presented at the Johnson Museum January 24 - April 12, 2015)

NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.