Käthe Kollwitz

8 / 14

*Poster Against Paragraph 218 ("Down with the Abortion Paragraphs!")*

Käthe Kollwitz. Poster Against Paragraph 218 ("Down with the Abortion Paragraphs!"). 1923 337

Crayon lithograph, composition: 18 1/2 × 17 1/8" (47 × 43.5 cm); sheet: 20 11/16 × 19 1/16" (52.5 × 48.4 cm). Daniel Stoll and Sibylle von Heydebrand Collection, Switzerland

Artist, Wolfgang Tillmans: It is fascinating to come across this Kollwitz poster against the abortion paragraph of the German criminal code.

I am Wolfgang Tillmans. I am a visual artist.

This poster is from 1923. It's exactly 100 years before the court in the US struck down Roe v. Wade.

Podcaster, Tamar Avishai: There is no ambiguity to this woman's exhaustion, the bags under her eyes, this infant who could be resting on a pregnant belly, and this other child who's in darkness. To make the argument that not everybody should be forced to become a mother and what kind of labor that asks of you, I’ve never seen anything like this image.

Writer, Sheila Heti: How is she going to take care of those two children and the child that she, by reading this poster, seems to have been forced to have, because of abortions being illegal? This artist is angry.

Wolfgang Tillmans: Those women who stood up and spoke for their rights were ostracized. They were not safe. This fearlessness that Käthe Kollwitz had in choosing her subject matter is very understandable to me. If we are not defending what has been achieved in society, we are really doing a disservice to those people who fought for the freedoms we enjoy today.

0:00