Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Kollwitz, "Infant Mortality," 1925, Wood Panel Carving

This expressionistic piece presents a mother holding a baby's coffin, one of her child. A black background occupies majority of the frame, revealing only the coffin, a bouquet of flowers atop it, the woman's face, and her bony hands. Harsh lines mark the objects of the piece--the women's face and hands identified by vertical lines and the coffin by horizontal lines.

It is as if the woman has embodied death after the passing of her child, appearing more of a skeleton than a human. Her face is sunken in, her hands bony, and her expression nonexistent. Kollowitz was known for focusing on pacifistic subjects, such as the poor. Social matters, such as infant mortality, remained her central theme of artwork. The harsh lines and dark forms reflect the era of loss following WWI. This expressionism of the piece and Kollowitz work as a whole allows for the skeleton woman to find place in the work as she epitomizes her emotional wavelength.

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