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Käthe Kollwitz Biography


German painter, printmaker and sculptor Käthe Kollwitz was born in Prussia in 1867. Her father noticed her talent early in life and arranged lessons for her in drawing and plaster casting. Around age 16, she began to draw people she met in her father’s workplace, including female peasants, working people and sailors – a theme she continued throughout her career. At the time, general colleges were not open for women to enroll, so she joined a women’s art school in Berlin, meeting Max Klinger, who became a key inspiration to her future work.

Refreshingly unpretentious, Kollwitz depicted the emotional experiences of everyday working people, and gave her pieces depth by her usage of lines, light and contrast. In 1920, she made history by becoming the first ever female elected member of the Prussian Academy of Arts. Membership included a large workspace, salary, and a professorship.
Over the course of her career, she made a total of 275 pieces of art, comprising lithography, etchings and woodcut. Kollwitz died only six days before the end of the Second World War, outliving her husband who died 5 years earlier. Today, the works of Kollwitz are widely celebrated; over 40 schools and 4 museums in Germany are named after her.

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