Monday, November 20, 2017

Käthe Kollwitz: Two Exhibitions

Käthe Kollwitz: Life, Death, and War

National Gallery of Ireland
 6 September - 10 December 2017

The Volunteers Plate 2 from the cycle War
An exhibition of 40 prints and drawings by the German artist Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945) will be shown in the National Gallery of Ireland. It is an opportunity for visitors to discover this important artist who created almost 300 prints, around 20 sculptures and some 1450 drawings during her long career.

The works in the exhibition, specially selected by the Gallery from the superb collection at the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, will allow visitors to reflect on the effects of war, in particular the grief left in its wake.

Kollwitz’s five print cycles: Revolt of the Weavers (1893-98), 

 The Peasants’ War, 5: Outbreak, 1902/03 (1921 edition) (Soft-ground etching with line, drypoint, aquatint and stopping out on paper – courtesy of Staatsgalerie Stuttgart)
The Ploughman-1907
Peasant War (1902-08),
War, 1: The Sacrifice, Spring 1922 (Woodcut on paper – courtesy of Staatsgalerie Stuttgart)

War (1921-22),

 Proletariat (1924-25),

Death With a Girl in Her Lap Artist: Kathe Kollwitz

and Death (1934-37) place her among the foremost printmakers of the twentieth century.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a free illustrated brochure, and a programme of talks and music.

Curator: Anne Hodge, National Gallery of Ireland

Nice little review
All Good Art is Political  Käthe Kollwitz (and Sue Coe)

Galerie St. Etienne
24 West 57th Street, New York NY 10019
October 26, 2017 - February 10, 2018 

Käthe Kollwitz
Never Again War! 1924. Lithograph with text on dark tan poster paper. 37" x 27" (94 x 68.6 cm). Knesebeck 205/IIIb. Daniel Stoll and Sibylle von Heydebrand Collection.

1897. Lithograph on yellow chine collé, mounted on heavy white wove paper. Signed, lower right. 6 1/8" x 6 1/8" (15.4 x 15.4 cm). Plate 1 from the cycle Revolt of the Weavers. Printed prior to 1907, before the edition of 50 numbered impressions published in 1918. Knesebeck 33/AIIIa.

Storming the Gate
Before 1897. Wash and ink on heavy ivory wove paper Signed, center right. 23 1/4" x 17 1/2" (59.1 x 44.5 cm). Study for the etching of the same title (Knesebeck 37) from the cycle Revolt of the Weavers. Nagel/Timm 135. Private collection.

Storming the Gate
1983-97. Etching on ivory wove paper. Signed, lower right; signed by O. Felsing, and numbered 11/50, lower left. 9 3/8" x 11 5/8" (23.8 x 29.5 cm). Plate 5 from the cycle Revolt of the Weavers. From the edition of 50 numbered impressions published in 1918. Knesebeck 37/IIc.


1903. Etching on heavy wove paper. Signed, lower left. 20" x 23 3/8" (50.8 x 59.4 cm). Plate 5 from the cycle Peasant War. From the first edition of approximately 300 impressions published in 1908. Knesebeck 70/VIIIb. Daniel Stoll and Sibylle von Heydebrand Collection.

Working Woman with Blue Shawl
1903. Lithograph in two colors on heavy cream wove paper. 13 7/8" x 9 3/4" (35.2 x 24.6 cm). Impression from the regular edition, with printed text in the lower margin. Knesebeck 75/AIIIb.


Woman with Scythe
1905. Etching on wove paper. Signed, also by O. Felsing, lower left. 11 3/4" x 11 3/4" (29.8 x 29.8 cm). Plate 3 from the sycle Peasant War. Proof before any edition. Knesebeck 88/V. Daniel Stoll and Sibylle von Heydebrand Collection.


1907. Etching on heavy white wove paper. Signed, lower right. 16 1/8" x 19 7/8" (41 x 50.5 cm). Plate 6 from the cycle Peasant War. From the first edition of approximately 300 impressions published in 1908. Knesebeck 100/Xb.

1907-08. Etching on heavy wove paper. Signed, lower left. 12 1/8" x 20 3/4" (30.8 x 52.7 cm). Plate 2 from the cycle Peasant War. From the edition of approximately 300 impressions published in 1908. Knesbeck 101/Vb. Daniel Stoll and Sibylle von Heydebrand Collection.

The Prisoners
1908. Charocal on white Ingres paper. Signed, upper right. 18 1/4" x 23" (46.4 x 58.4 cm). Study for plate 7 from the cycle Peasant War (Knesebeck 102). Nagel/Timm 429. Private collection.

The Prisoners
1908. Etching on Japan paper. Signed, lower right, and by O. Felsing, lower left. 12 7/8" x 16 7/8" (32.7 x 42.9 cm). Plate 7 from the cycle Peasant War. Fromt the edtiion published by von der Becke in 1931-41. Knesebeck 102/IXa. Daniel Stoll and Sibylle von Heydebrand Collection.

1909. Etching on heavy cream wove paper. Signed, lower right, and signed by O. Felsing, lower left. 15 5/8" x 20 3/4" (39.7 x 52.7 cm). Proof before the numbered edition published in 1918. Knesebeck 104/VIc.

 Pregnant Woman
1910. Etching on heavy cream wove paper. Signed, lower right. 14 7/8" x 9 3/8" (37.7 x 23.6 cm). From the edition published in 1921. Knesebeck 111/V.

Working Woman (with Earring)
1910. Etching on heavy cream wove paper. Signed, lower right, and by O. Felsing, lower left. 13" x 9 7/8" (32.9 x 25.1 cm). Knesebeck 112/IVc.

Free Our Prisoners!
1919. Lithograph with text on heavy dark beige paper. 26 3/4" x 36 1/8" (67.9 x 91.8 cm). Knesebeck 139/II. Daniel Stoll and Sibylle von Heydebrand Collection.

Killed in Action (First Version)
1919. Lithograph on smooth paper. Signed, lower right. 14 1/8" x 11 3/4" (35.9 x 29.8 cm). One of three recorded impressions. Knesebeck 144. Private collection.


Help Russia!
1921. Lithograph with text on tan poster paper. 26" x 18 3/4" (66 x 47.6 cm). Knesbeck 170/AII. Daniel Stoll and Sibylle von Heydebrand Collection.


The Volunteers
1921-22. Woodcut on heavy white Japan paper. Signed, lower right, and numbered 63/100, lower left. 13 3/4" x 19 1/2" (34.9 x 49.5 cm). Plate 2 from the cycle War. From the edition of 100 impressions on this paper. Knesebeck 173/IVb. Private collection.


The Widow I
1922-23. Woodcut on heavy cream wove paper. 14 5/8" x 8 7/8" (37.1 x 22.5 cm). Plate 4 from the cycle War. From the edition of 100 impressions printed on the cover of the "A" edition of the portfolio. 


The Sacrifice
1922. Woodcut on heavy cream wove paper. Signed, lower right, and numbered "B 4/100," lower left. 14 5/8" x 15 7/8" (37.1 x 40.3 cm). Plate 1 from the cycle War. From the edition of 100 impressions on this paper. Knesebeck 179/IXc.


1923. Woodcut on thick, soft, textured off-white paper. Signed, lower right. 8 3/4" x 9" (22 x 22.8 cm). One of approximately 20 impressions. Knesebeck 182/VI.


The Survivors
1923. Charcoal on gray wove paper. Signed, lower right. 19 3/8" x 25 1/2" (49.5 x 64.8 cm). Study for the lithograph of the same title (Knesebeck 197). Nagel/Timm 985. Private collection.


Poster Against Paragraph 218
1923. Lithograph with text on thin tan poster paper. 18 1/2" x 17 1/8" (47 x 43.5 cm). Knesebeck 198/II. Daniel Stoll and Sibylle von Heydebrand Collection.


Germany's Children are Starving
1923. Lithograph on heavy cream wove paper. Signed, upper right. 16 3/4" x 11 3/8" (42.5 x 28.9 cm). Impression from the edition published by Richter. Knesbeck 202/AIVa2.


Fight Hunger/Buy Food Stamps" (Beggars)
1924. Lithograph with text on dark tan poster paper. 13 3/4" x 18" (34.9 x 45.7 cm). Knesbeck 206/AII. Daniel Stoll and Sibylle von Heydebrand Collection.

Käthe Kollwitz
Unemployed 1925. Woodcut, worked over in India ink and white tempera, on heavy soft textured Japan paper. Signed, lower right, and inscribed "I.Z" (1st s[tate]), lower left. 14 1/8" x 11 3/4" (35.9 x 29.8 cm). Plate 1 from the cycle Proletariat. Unique proof. Knesebeck 215/I. Private collection.

Käthe Kollwitz
Cottage Industry 1925. Lithograph with text on thin, tan poster paper. Signed, lower right. 27" x 17 3/4" (68.6 x 45.1 cm). Poster for the 1925 Deutsche Heimarbeit-Ausstellung. Knesebeck 217/BII. Daniel Stoll and Sibylle von Heydebrand Collection

Prisoners Listening to Music
1925. Lithograph on soft cream Japan paper. Signed, lower right. 13 1/8" x 12 5/8" (33.4 x 32 cm). From the edition published for members of the Kunstverein Kassel between 1925 adn 1927. Knesebeck 223/IIIa.

Municipal Shelter
1926. Lithograph on off-white wove paper. Signed, lower right. 16 1/2" x 22" (42 x 56 cm). From the edition published for members of the Kunstverein Leipzig in 1926. Knesebeck 226/b.

The Agitator
1926. Lithograph on white wove paper. 12 1/4" x 8 1/2" (31.1 x 21.6 cm). Knesebeck 230/d.

Fettered Man
1928. Lithograph on Velin paper. Signed, lower right, and numbered "N. 21," lower left. 11 1/4" x 7 5/8" (28.5 x 19.3 cm). From the edition of 32 impressions. Knesebeck 241. Daniel Stoll and Sibylle von Heydebrand Collection.

66. 1931. Lithograph on yellowish, heavy, soft wove paper. Signed, lower right. 14 1/2" x 10 1/8" (36.9 x 25.7 cm). Knesebeck 252/IIc. Daniel Stoll and Sibylle von Heydebrand Collection.

Tower of Mothers
1937-38. Bronze with brown patina. 11 1/8" x 10 1/2" (28.3 x 26.7 cm). Cast in 1941 by H. Noack, Berlin, at the artist's request. Private collection.

68. Seed-Corn Must Not be Ground
1941. Lithograph on smooth ivory wove paper. Signed, lower right. 14 1/2" x 15 1/2" (37 x 39.5 cm). Very rare proof; no edition was published. Knesebeck 274. Private collection.


Coe, Sue
Kollwitz, Käthe


All good art is political! There is none that isn’t. And the ones that try hard not to be political are political by saying, “We love the status quo.”... I’m not interested in art that is not in the world. —Toni Morrison

Prior to the twentieth century, art’s political grounding was taken for granted. Most European art—religious scenes, portraits and history painting—affirmed the values and legitimacy of the ruling class. As hereditary monarchs came under fire, first in the French Revolution and then in the more widespread but short-lived revolts of 1848, artists gradually lost their aristocratic support base. Painters like David, Ingres and Delacroix embraced the new order, helping shape the myth of modern France as a land of liberty, fraternity and equality. Others assumed a more critical stance. Daumier, whose caricatures at one point landed him in prison, lobbied for greater social justice. Goya, though employed by the Spanish court, created the satirical etching cycle Caprichos and, in response to Napoléon’s aggressive imperialism, the scathing Disasters of War. Egalitarian idealism, coupled with growing social unrest, prompted artists more frequently to depict peasants and workers. Art remained rooted in political realities, but the emphasis shifted.

A significant number of artists identified with the forces of reform. The descriptor “avant-garde,” first applied to artists in 1825 by the socialist thinker Olinde Rodrigues, originally had political connotations. Artists, Rodrigues thought, were natural leaders in the struggle to remake society. The modernist stylistic upheavals that swept through Europe at the turn of the last century were not about “art for art’s sake.” Artists were looking for new forms that would give expression to the radically new circumstances of modern life. They wanted to sweep away the stale pictorial and moral conventions of the entrenched bourgeoisie. That modernism could indeed be perceived as a political threat was later affirmed by its suppression under Hitler and Stalin.

Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945) grew up in a family of committed Christian dissidents. Her maternal grandfather, Julius Rupp, was the pastor of an underground Protestant congregation, the Free Society of Königsberg. Hounded by the police, fined and jailed, Rupp taught the future artist to value freedom of conscience over obeisance to the state. Though Kollwitz was not especially religious, she believed in duty, sacrifice and service to a higher cause. She viewed socialism as a secular path to “God’s kingdom on earth”—imagined by her grandfather as a classless society with equality and justice for all. Karl and Konrad Schmidt, the artist’s father and brother, were among the founding members of the German Social Democratic Party.

The German socialists supported women’s rights, and therefore Karl Schmidt encouraged his daughter’s professional aspirations. He dreamed she might become an acclaimed history painter. But such an achievement—then the pinnacle of artistic success—was unattainable for a woman. Prohibited from enrolling at the Academy, females were shunted into the lesser areas of creative endeavor—crafts, printmaking, at most landscape or portrait painting. Fearful of competition, men not only restricted women’s career options, but issued lengthy prescriptive pronouncements about the nature of femininity. Women, they opined, lacked the intellect, objectivity and spiritual understanding required to create anything of note; females could best serve the arts as muses. It was perhaps with these ideas in mind that Kollwitz later ascribed her professional persistence to the “masculine” aspects of her character.

Propelled by personal preference as well as the available educational opportunities, Kollwitz made her way, through a succession of women’s art schools and private lessons, to printmaking. It was a fortuitous choice, because history painting in the grand tradition was waning, along with the aristocracy. History as a subject, however, could better be depicted in a sequence of prints than in a single painted image. Inspired by the print cycles of Max Klinger, Kollwitz’s first foray in this realm was Revolt of the Weavers, a series of three lithographs and three etchings loosely based on Gerhart Hauptmann’s play about the 1844 Silesian weavers’ rebellion. The Weavers prints (1893-97) evidenced a mastery of craft and nuance heretofore seen only in academic history painting: the orchestration of complex figural groupings and subtle chiaroscuro effects in a variety of evocative pictorial spaces to convey a compelling dramatic narrative. Kollwitz’s intensive engagement with the expressive capabilities of printmaking techniques parallels, and to some extent precedes, the work of modernists such as Edvard Munch and the German Brücke artists, but Kollwitz’s prints were revolutionary less in form than in content. And while for male modernists printmaking was always secondary to work in other, more “important” mediums, for Kollwitz it remained primary.

Revolt of the Weavers and Kollwitz’s next, similarly themed print cycle, Peasant War (1902-08), treated both genders as comrades in arms. This was in keeping with the tenets of German socialist feminism, which held that proletarian men and women were united under the yoke of capitalism and would be liberated together when that yoke was lifted. However, through exposure to the working-class patients of her husband Karl Kollwitz, a physician, the artist began to recognize that proletarian women had unique problems stemming from their subordination to and dependency on proletarian men. “As soon as the man drinks or gets sick or loses his job, the same thing always happens,” Kollwitz observed. “Either he hangs like a dead weight on his family and lets them support him...or he becomes depressed... or crazy... or he kills himself.”

Kollwitz grew increasingly concerned with women’s issues such as inadequate wages, temperance, domestic violence and lack of access to contraception or abortion. After completing the Peasant War series, she took her subjects from lived experience rather than history, and motherhood came to assume a central role in her work. The mother’s instinctual drive to save her children from harm was rendered with an evocative realism that encouraged viewers to empathize with the woman’s plight. At the same time, the images were a symbolic call to action, an invocation to fashion a world that would be safe for future generations.

Like many progressive Europeans on both sides of the conflict, Kollwitz initially imagined that World War I would wipe away the stale remnants of bourgeois materialism and lead to a renewal of human society. Steeled by a deeply ingrained sense of duty, she was even prepared to sacrifice her teenaged son, Peter, for the greater good. She grudgingly granted him permission to volunteer, and was devastated when he fell on the Belgian front scarcely two months later. It was hard for the artist to accept that her boy had died for nothing. She only gradually grew to understand not just that this particular war was pointless, but that all wars hobble humanity by eviscerating the rising generation. “Seed-corn,” Kollwitz declared (quoting Goethe), “must not be ground.”

World War I transformed Kollwitz into a committed pacifist. Unlike Otto Dix and George Grosz, whose depictions of the war were conditioned by their army experiences, her War cycle (1921-22) emphasized the home front. In the first plate, The Sacrifice (Das Opfer), a mother holds her infant aloft, as though offering him to the gods. But the German word Opfer also means “victim,” and it is clear that the artist’s interpretation is elegiac rather than heroic. Another plate, The Volunteers, shows a surge of youth heedlessly following the drumbeat of death, Peter’s face recognizable at the forefront. In a 1923 antiwar poster commissioned by the International Federation of Trade Unions and distributed in fourteen languages, Kollwitz focused on the “survivors,” whom she described as “women huddled together in a black lump, protecting their children just as animals do with their own brood.” In 1924, on the tenth anniversary of World War I, she created the iconic poster Never Again War!

No longer the naïve revolutionary who once dreamed of joining her father and brother on the barricades, Kollwitz found it impossible to take sides in the political conflicts that roiled the Weimar Republic. The Social Democrats were too susceptible to rightwing pressure, the Communists too prone to violence. Nevertheless, Peter’s death had redoubled her desire to serve humankind in the broadest sense. She was quick to lend her art in support of any cause that moved her: the food shortages that swept through Germany, Austria and Russia after the war, the plight of prisoners, the poor and, as always, the extra burden shouldered by women and children. Her aim was to “bear witness,” to “express...the suffering of human beings.” “My art serves a purpose,” Kollwitz continued. “I want to exert an influence in my own time, in which human beings are so helpless and destitute.”

Kollwitz’s rejection of any fixed ideology did not keep her work from being appropriated for unintended political ends. Even the Nazis, who quickly eliminated all the artist’s professional outlets, found a use for one of her lithographs, Bread! Though Kollwitz was never a Communist, the East Germans made her their own after World War II. In the West, which sought to whitewash the reality of Nazi collusion, she was offered up as the prototypical “good German.” The evident ease with which socially engaged art could be misappropriated for propaganda purposes prompted many artists to back away from politics in the second half of the twentieth century.

During the Cold War, U.S. cultural policy willfully discredited any sort of political art. Figurative work was dismissed based on its superficial resemblance to Soviet Socialist Realism. The history of prewar European modernism was rewritten to downplay the artists’ humanistic motivations and oftentimes socialist leanings. The critic Clement Greenberg seconded and advanced Alfred Barr’s formalist approach, which drove the agenda at the Museum of Modern Art. The goal, Greenberg decreed, was to create a work of art xso vacuous that it could not “be reduced in whole or in part to anything not itself.” Lauded for its lack of apparent content, Abstract Expressionism was used by the American government to galvanize intellectual opposition to Communism and to promote the ideal of democratic freedom abroad.

As the Cold War example demonstrates, it is remarkably difficult to disentangle even ostensibly apolitical art from the dominant power structure. The art world’s attempt to distance itself from the real world in the mistaken belief that this will keep the work “pure” does not solve the problem of misappropriation. Yet artists today remain torn between a desire to address pressing social concerns such as racism, income inequality and climate change, and the arcane visual language favored by the art world. “There’s... too much inbred art about itself or otherwise so specialized that it takes reams of explaining in almost unreadable texts just to say why it’s relevant at all,” the critic Jerry Saltz wrote in a recent jeremiad. “And the things that might feel relevant, or radical, in another context often get so buffered and wrapped in the wealth of the system...that they cease to offer anything new-seeming.” Genuine political engagement is still fundamentally at odds with contemporary art-world practice.

Sue Coe (b. 1951) is not of the art world. As a girl, she assumed she would become a factory worker, like her mother, or a secretary. Art was her escape, at first emotionally and then literally, from a working-class fate. When she was seventeen, Coe got a scholarship to attend the Chelsea School of Art in London, where she trained to be an illustrator. “I knew I had to make a living at art. No one was going to support me except myself,” she recalls. “[Illustration] was one of the few career paths that was open to women: children’s books, or greeting card illustrations, or a job making wallpaper designs (flowers are ‘female’).” In 1972 Coe moved to New York and began doing editorial illustration for The New York Times and similar publications. Designing for the printed page taught the artist to refine her visual messaging. “If the images are not an effective lure,” she explains, “immediately compelling or accessible, the viewer will not consider reading the content.” While then unfamiliar with Klinger’s treatise Painting and Drawing, Coe, like Kollwitz, instinctively understood that black-and-white is better suited to social criticism than color.

Coe had developed the first shreds of a political consciousness protesting the Vietnam War as a student in London. “I could see this was a moral stand,” she remembers, “even though at the time I didn’t know Karl from Groucho.” In New York, she joined the Arts Club, a place where aging Marxists, many of them survivors of the Great Depression and the McCarthy-era blacklist, met to discuss politics and print posters in support of local issues like tenants’ rights. She also broadened her aesthetic horizons, discovering the work of Daumier, Dix, Goya, Grosz and, of course, Kollwitz. Free of formalist dogma and its concomitant prescriptions, which still gripped American academia, Coe selected from the broad panoply of art history those influences that spoke to her. Tired of the constraints imposed by her editors, she also began choosing her own subjects and working on a larger scale.

Coe made her reputation as an artist in the mid 1980s with canvases based on headline events, including the notorious pool-table rape of a New Bedford woman (now in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art) and the “subway vigilante,” Bernard Goetz. However (again like Kollwitz), she preferred to work in series that facilitated a more in-depth exploration. “My preference,” she says, “is to choose a topic, or have it choose me, and research it and do it well over a decade.” Coe’s approach is journalistic, and she likes to see her images accompanied by factual reportage, preferably in book form. In 1983, she published her first book, with text by Holly Metz, How to Commit Suicide in South Africa. This and her next book, X (The Life and Times of Malcolm X) (1986), explored the relationship between racial prejudice and genocide. More generally, Coe’s work has been an indictment of the ways in which capitalism subjugates the weak, dividing society into classes of oppressors and victims. Writing in the catalogue of her 1987-89 traveling retrospective, Police State, the art historian Donald Kuspit credited the artist with creating “a new genre, somewhere between political cartoon and history painting.”

Essentially, Sue Coe picked up where Kollwitz left off. Coe views herself as “a witness” who uses art “to help serve justice and highlight the oppression that is concealed.” Even in our media-saturated environment, there are incidents—such as police shootings or the so-called suicides of jailed anti-apartheid activists—that can only be recreated after the fact, and locations—such as slaughterhouses—where cameras are not allowed. There are also a great many horrific places—such as prisons, AIDS wards and sweatshops—that we know exist but prefer to ignore. Coe’s job is to go there, observe and record. “People think they can choose to be indifferent,” she explains, “and the filter of art is a useful veil to present the reality. It opens up a chance to have a dialogue where the viewer asks questions and is more open to the challenge of change.”

For Coe, the predations of capitalism transcend the specifics of identity politics, uniting all socioeconomic minorities in common oppression. Growing up near a slaughterhouse on the outskirts of London, she came to view non-human animals as part of an overriding continuum of corporate violence. “We need economic, gender and species equality,” she declares. Today the sort of widespread hunger depicted by Kollwitz is rarely seen in developed nations. Instead, we suffer from the problems of overproduction, which are subtler and more globally diffuse: malnutrition, the destruction of indigenous crops, deforestation and sweeping environmental degradation. Agribusiness and the meat industry are behind many of these calamities, Coe points out. “Animal agriculture is among the leading causes of climate change,” she says. “Animals as a class of beings are facing extinction.” Coe sees farmed animals as analogous to the children in Kollwitz’s work: innocent creatures trod under by the malevolence of an unjust system; creatures that stand both for themselves and for the future, in that their persecution reflects existential environmental concerns.

From the outset, Coe’s art has been predicated on the belief that, “if people know the facts, they’ll change the system.” How to Commit Suicide in South Africa was widely used as an organizing tool on college campuses, supporting the disinvestment movement that ultimately contributed to the end of apartheid. Since Coe began focusing on animal rights in the late 1980s, people have become much more aware of issues first highlighted in her work: the immense cruelty of factory farming; the meat industry’s disproportionate consumption of natural resources; the concomitant pollution and degradation of our food supply. In fact, these consciousness-raising efforts have proved so successful that Coe worries animal welfare will come to overshadow animal rights. She does not merely want to improve conditions for food animals, but to end meat consumption altogether. She sees her work as empowering viewers with a simple message: go vegan. “Changing what we eat is one way to do something positive for the environment and to help other people,” Coe says. “We can control what we put into our mouths, what we put into our bodies, and with this starting point, who knows what is possible?”

Käthe Kollwitz and Sue Coe are outliers in the context of an art world that, even in its more rebellious moments, has tended to serve the interests of the powerful. Both artists found niches in genres— printmaking and illustration—that connect directly with the general public but are not heavily contested by men. And as women, each intuitively understood the far-ranging effects of discrimination and oppres- sion. “Women are closer to the heel of the boot,” Coe observes. “They are forced into the roles of being the caretaker, the peacemaker, and as such are the last line of defense for the most vulnerable.”

Rooted in the real world, the art of Käthe Kollwitz and Sue Coe communicates with people in a visual language they understand. Though their styles are very different, both artists combine immediately recognizable representational elements with an expressive abbreviation of form that directly engages the emotions. Kollwitz sometimes spent years refining a single image, trying out variations until she found the most effective synthesis of content and form. “It’s always been a balance of form and content, throughout the history of art,” Coe notes. “The work must achieve a level of technique to convince the viewer to look at the sincerity of the content.” “Admittedly, my art is not ‘pure’ art,” Kollwitz declared. “But art nonetheless.” One-hundred-and-fifty years after the older artist’s birth, the magnitude of her accomplishment still resonates, not just with followers like Coe, but with those of us who know we have yet to achieve equality and justice for all.

We would like to express our deepest gratitude to Sibylle von Heydebrand and Daniel Stoll for lending so many of their Kollwitz treasures to our exhibition. This show would not have been possible without their cooperation. The Galerie St. Etienne’s exhibition coordinator, Fay Beilis Duftler, also provided invaluable contributions to the project. Copies of Sue Coe’s latest book (her seventh), The Animals’ Vegan Manifesto, (122 pages, 115 black & white illustrations, soft-cover) may be purchased for $17.00, plus $10.00 shipping and handling. New York residents, please add sales tax. Checklist entries are accompanied by their catalogue raisonné numbers, where applicable. Image dimensions are given for prints, full dimensions for all other works.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Big Picture: A Transformative Gift from the Hall Family Foundation,

The Hall Family Foundation, in continuing its long support of the photography program at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, made a special $10 million grant to broaden and deepen this collection. Recognized around the world, this is one of the finest museum photography collections in the nation. The gift permitted a more intensive acquisition focus from 2015 to 2017.
About 100 of the more than 800 newly acquired photographs will be on view in a Spring 2018 exhibition, The Big Picture: A Transformative Gift from the Hall Family Foundation, to coincide with the Foundation’s 75th anniversary.

“The generous and steadfast support of the Nelson-Atkins by the Hall Family Foundation is the reason our photography collection is world-renowned,” said Julián Zugazagoitia, Menefee D. and Mary Louise Blackwell CEO & Director of the Nelson-Atkins. “The leadership and vision of Donald J. Hall and the stewardship of the Foundation through the years has improved and enriched the cultural scene in Kansas City in myriad ways.”

The acquisition process and the selection of works in The Big Picture were a collaborative effort by the photography department’s Keith F. Davis, senior curator; April M. Watson, curator; and Jane L. Aspinwall, associate curator. Davis has overseen the Hallmark Photographic Collection for nearly 40 years. He arrived in Kansas City after interning at the George Eastman House in 1979 to begin a six-month stint as cataloguer of the collection; he never left.

The special $10 million gift allowed the curators to build on the collection’s existing strengths—primarily its broad holding of American daguerreotypes and prints—and to enhance its representation of 19th-and 20th-century European and contemporary international works. These new pieces span the entire history of the medium, from an 1826 print by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, the inventor of photography, to a 2016 work by legendary musician and artist Patti Smith. Many of history’s most famous names are represented, including Nadar, Gustave Le Gray, Edward Steichen, Jaromir Funke, Claude Cahun, Alfred Eisenstadt, Dorothea Lange, W. Eugene Smith, Robert Frank, and Diane Arbus. Also represented are leading contemporary artists such as Cindy Sherman, Paul Graham, Ellsworth Kelly, Carrie Mae Weems, Dayanita Singh, Ilit Azoulay, Thomas Struth, Candida Hofer, and Thomas Demand. This two-year initiative has resulted in the addition of more than 800 objects, made over a span of 190 years, by artists from more than a dozen countries.

“This special acquisition initiative has been immensely gratifying,” said Davis. “We three curators reviewed a great deal of work and thought hard about collection priorities. We sought to enhance our existing strengths, while adding depth in other key areas of interest. These new works will allow for more varied and stimulating shows, and fresh scholarship, for many years to come. This is a direct benefit to our community and our field. We cannot thank the Hall Family Foundation enough for this remarkable opportunity, and for its long history of generosity.”

This collection is the product of a remarkable story of enlightened patronage. Hallmark Cards, Inc. has been involved in the fine arts since the late 1940s, when company founder J. C. Hall envisioned a series of competitions and traveling exhibitions of contemporary art. In 1949, Hallmark organized its first International Art Award competition, opened to artists in France and the United States. An exhibition of the winning works toured nationally, with proceeds benefiting the American Red Cross. This was followed by four subsequent competitions, ending in 1960. By that time, the Hallmark Art Collection held a larger and more varied collection of contemporary paintings than some museums and almost any other American corporation.

David L. Strout played a central role in Hallmark’s involvement with photography. In 1963, Strout was recruited by J. C. Hall to direct the new Hallmark Gallery store on Fifth Avenue in New York City. From 1964 to 1973, Strout organized a diverse sequence of exhibitions that combined popular culture with the art of photography. The Hallmark Gallery’s “Harry Callahan” exhibit of 1964 was the artist’s first one-person show in New York, and the company purchased all 141 prints. Similar exhibitions followed, and in 1968 Strout proposed that Hallmark officially begin collecting fine photographs. The first body of work acquired for the new collection in 1969 was by the medium’s greatest living master, Edward Steichen, followed quickly by notable purchases of work by Henri Cartier-Bresson, André Kertész, Edward Weston, Berenice Abbott, László Moholy-Nagy, and others. By 1979, Hallmark’s collection included 650 photographs.

In 1966, J. C. Hall’s son, Donald J. Hall, assumed the role of company president and CEO and soon put his imprint on the firm’s corporate and cultural profile. His artistic interests were broad, including architecture, jazz, photography, sculpture, and African art. He served as a Trustee of the Nelson-Atkins from 1980 to 2011. As head of the Hall Family Foundation, he continues to provide the guiding philosophy for its charitable activity, which includes extensive support of the Nelson-Atkins.

In 1986, for example, the Foundation donated a collection of 58 sculptures and maquettes by Henry Moore; this was followed by individual sculptures by Constantin Brancusi, Alberto Giacometti, Max Ernst, and others. Mr. Hall has said, “These activities reflect a fundamental belief in the importance of art to our quality of life and our cultural well-being. Art—in any medium—is about the communication of ideas and emotions, the unending dynamic of change, and the power of the imagination.”

The Hall Family Foundation has supported a great variety of programs and initiatives that effect positive change in the greater Kansas City community. The Foundation’s president, William A. Hall, said, “Our purview is the overall well-being of the Kansas City area. The arts are vital to that effort, and we take particular pride in the history and quality of our activities in photography. With the benefit of a unique conjunction of interests and talents, we have aimed over time to help create an artistic resource of real international importance.”

Hallmark’s current CEO, Donald J. Hall, Jr., has been a museum Trustee since 2016, the same year he became the fourth member of his family to receive the Kansas Citian of the Year award for contributions to the community. “We have always tried to pick our projects carefully and to work in a sustained way—building logically on the institutions and assets that make our community genuinely special,” said Hall. “This effort began with my grandfather and flourished so beautifully with my father’s support. I am proud, after all these years, that it continues so strongly today.”

In December 2005, Hallmark transferred its entire photographic collection of 6,500 works to the Nelson-Atkins. The museum’s photographic holdings immediately expanded from 1,000 to 7,500 works and now numbers about 15,000. Since 2006, the Foundation has provided vital support for this department.

The Big Picture, April 27–Oct. 7, 2018, highlights about 100 of the most significant of these acquisitions and will be presented in all 3,000 sq. ft. of the museum’s dedicated photography galleries. The exhibition will be accompanied by a small publication authored by Davis on the history of photography at the museum, at Hallmark, and in the Kansas City community.

Edward Steichen, American, born Luxembourg, 1879 – 1973. William M. Chase, 1906. Gum bichromate over platinum print. Image: 19 11/16 × 15 3/4 inches (50.01 × 40.01 cm). Sheet: 19 7/8 × 16 inches (50.48 × 40.64 cm). Mount: 19 7/8 × 16 inches (50.48 × 40.64 cm). Gift of the Hall Family Foundation. 2016.75.284

Diane Arbus, American, 1923 – 1971. Neil Selkirk, American, born England, born 1947. Child with a toy hand grenade in Central Park, NYC, 1962; printed 1973. Gelatin silver print. Image: 14 7/16 × 14 3/8 inches (36.63 × 36.53 cm). Sheet: 19 15/16 × 15 15/16 inches (50.62 × 40.46 cm). Gift of the Hall Family Foundation. 2017.24.1

Firmin-Eugène Le Dien, French, 1817 – 1865. Gustave Le Gray, French, 1820 – 1884. Rome: Sortie du Pont Tescato au Trastevere, 1853. Salt print. Image and sheet: 9 3/8 × 12 15/16 inches (23.81 × 32.86 cm). Mount: 13 13/16 × 19 3/16 inches (35.08 × 48.74 cm). Gift of the Hall Family Foundation. 2016.75.136

Candida Höfer, German, born 1944. Sankt Maximilian Düsseldorf I, 2012. Chromogenic print. Image: 55 × 51 3/4 inches (139.7 × 131.45 cm). Sheet: 70 7/8 × 67 1/2 inches (180.02 × 171.45 cm). Mount: 70 7/8 × 67 1/2 inches (180.02 × 171.45 cm). Framed: 72 1/4 × 69 × 1 3/4 inches (183.52 × 175.26 × 4.45 cm). Gift of the Hall Family Foundation. 2016.75.104

Ferdinand Hodler Elective Affinities from Klimt to Schiele

Leopold Museum
13th October 2017 to 22nd January 2018

This presentation at the Leopold Museum will be the most comprehensive retrospective exhibition of works by Ferdinand Hodler (1853–1918) in Austria since the artist’s resounding success at the 1904 Secession exhibition. An exponent of Symbolism and Jugendstil, a pioneer of Expressionism, and not least an innovator of monumental painting, Hodler was an important inspiration to numerous artists of Viennese Modernism, such as Gustav Klimt and Koloman Moser, as well as Oskar Kokoschka and Egon Schiele.

The presentation focuses on the three main themes of Hodler’s art: landscapes from plein air painting to abstraction, portraits with an emphasis on female depictions, self-portraits, the haunting series of works accompanying the death of his lover Valentine Godé-Darel, as well as his eminent Symbolist figural compositions.

FERDINAND  HODLER  1853 – 1918  
THE CONVALESCENT, c. 1880 Öl auf Leinwand  | Oil on canvas 54 × 45 cm Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Stiftung Oskar Reinhart Foto | Photo:  SIK-ISEA, Zürich  | Zurich /Philipp Hitz

THE AVALANCHE Öl auf Leinwand  | Oil on canvas 129,5 × 99,5 cm Kunstmuseum Solothurn, Depositum der Schweizerischen Eidgenossenschaft, Bundesamt für Kultur, Bern, 1903 Kunstmuseum Solothurn, deposit of the Swiss Federation, Federal Office of Culture, Bern, 1903 Foto | Photo:  Kunstmuseum Solothurn

 THE ROAD TO EVORDES, c. 1890 Öl auf Leinwand  | Oil on canvas 63 × 45 cm Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Stiftung Oskar Reinhart Foto | Photo:  SIK-ISEA, Zürich  | Zurich /Philipp Hitz!HalfHD.jpg

FERDINAND  HODLER  THE GOLDEN MEADOW, c. 1890 Öl auf Leinwand  | Oil on canvas 70,5 × 51 cm Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Stiftung Oskar Reinhart Foto | Photo:  SIK-ISEA, Zürich  | Zurich /Philipp Hitz

FERDINAND  HODLER  1853 – 1918 SELBSTBILDNIS (VON PARIS), 1891 SELF-PORTRAIT (FROM PARIS) Öl auf Holz  | Oil on wood 29 × 23 cm Musée d’art et d’histoire, Genf, Depositum der Gottfried Keller-Stiftung, Bern Musée d’art et d’histoire, Geneva, deposit at the Gottfried Keller Foundation, Bern Foto | Photo:  Bettina Jacot-Descombes

FERDINAND  HODLER  1853 – 1918 WILHELM TELL, 1896/97 WILLIAM TELL Öl auf Leinwand  | Oil on canvas 256 × 196 cm Kunstmuseum Solothurn, Vermächtnis Margrit Kottmann-Müller in Erinnerung an ihren  Ehemann Dr. Walther Kottmann, 1958  | Kunstmuseum Solothurn, bequeathed by Margrit  Kottmann-Müller in memory of her husband Dr. Walther Kottmann, 1958 Foto | Photo:  Kunstmuseum Solothurn

FERDINAND  HODLER  1853 – 1918 DIE WAHRHEIT, 19 03 TRUTH Öl auf Leinwand  | Oil on canvas 208 × 294,5 cm Kunsthaus Zürich, Dauerleihgabe der Stadt Zürich, 1930  Kunsthaus Zürich, permanent loan from the City of Zurich Foto | Photo:  Kunsthaus Zürich

FERDINAND  HODLER  1904 PORTRAIT OF KÄTHE VON BACH (IN THE GARDEN) Öl auf Leinwand  | Oil on canvas 43 × 33 cm Privatbesitz (Schweiz)  | Private collection (Switzerland) Foto | Photo:  SIK-ISEA, Zürich  | Zurich

FERDINAND  HODLER  1853 – 1918 WALDBACH BEI LEISSIGEN, 1904 FOREST BROOK AT LEISSIGEN Öl auf Leinwand  | Oil on canvas 88,5 × 101,5 cm Kunsthaus Zürich, Legat Richard Schwarzenbach, 1920 Kunsthaus Zürich, legacy Richard Schwarzenbach, 1920 Foto | Photo:  Kunsthaus Zürich

FERDINAND  HODLER  1905 SENSATION III, c . 190 5 Öl auf Leinwand  | Oil on canvas 117,5 × 170 cm Eigentum des Kantons Bern  | Property of the Canton of Bern Foto | Photo:  Eigentum des Kantons Bern  | Property of the Canton of Bern /Wilhelm Balmer

FERDINAND  HODLER  1911 PORTRAIT OF GERTRUD MÜLLER Öl auf Leinwand  | Oil on canvas 175 × 132 cm Kunstmuseum Solothurn, Dübi-Müller-Stiftung, 1980 Foto | Photo:  Kunstmuseum Solothurn

FERDINAND  HODLER  1853 – 1918 ENTZÜCKTES WEIB, 1911 WOMAN IN ECSTASY Öl auf Leinwand  | Oil on canvas 170 × 85,5 cm Privatsammlung Bern (Schweiz)  | Private collection Bern (Switzerland) Foto | Photo:  SIK-ISEA, Zürich  | Zurich

FERDINAND  HODLER  1912 PORTRAIT OF VALENTINE GODÉ-DAREL Öl auf Papier auf Karton  | Oil on paper on cardboard 41 × 32,3 cm Leopold Museum, Wien  | Leopold Museum, Vienna Foto | Photo:  Leopold Museum, Wien  | Vienna /Manfred Thumberger

FERDINAND  HODLER   1917 SELF-PORTRAIT Öl auf Leinwand  | Oil on canvas 83,5 × 60 cm Privatsammlung Schweiz  | Private collection Switzerland Foto | Photo:  Peter Schälchli, Zürich  | Zurich

FERDINAND  HODLER   LAKE GENEVA WITH MONT BLANC IN EARLY MORNING (OCTOBER), 1917 Öl auf Leinwand  | Oil on canvas 62 × 128 cm Musée d’art et d’histoire, Genf  | Musée d’art et d’histoire, Geneva Foto | Photo:  Bettina Jacot-Descombes

FERDINAND  HODLER  1853 – 1918 DIE DENTS DU MIDI VON CAUX AUS, 1917 DENTS DU MIDI FROM CAUX  Öl auf Leinwand  | Oil on canvas 60 × 80 cm Privatsammlung Tessin  | Private collection, Ticino Foto | Photo:  Privatsammlung Schweiz  | Private collection Switzerland 28

FERDINAND  HODLER   1918 LAKE GENEVA WITH MONT BLANC AT DAWN Öl auf Leinwand  | Oil on canvas 57,5 × 85,5 cm Kunstmuseum Solothurn, Dübi-Müller-Stiftung, 1980 Foto | Photo:  SIK-ISEA, Zürich  | Zurich /Philipp Hitz 29 CUNO AMIET  1868–1961 BILDNIS