Käthe Kollwitz The Volunteers (Die Freiwilligen), state IV/IV, plate 2 from War (Krieg) 1921–22, published 1923

  • MoMA, Floor 3, 3 South The Edward Steichen Galleries

War, Kollwitz’s third print portfolio, memorializes the anguish of those who lost sons, husbands, and fathers in World War I. Its sequence mirrors Kollwitz’s evolution from war supporter to pacifist as she coped with the death of her own son in the conflict. “[This series] is my confrontation with that part of my life, from 1914 to 1918, and these four years were difficult to reckon with,” she wrote. The first two sheets portray a mother holding her infant as if offering a sacrifice, and a band of volunteers marching ecstatically to battle. Subsequent sheets shift to parents and widows grieving their losses. One of the final sheets depicts mothers protecting children—an image of resistance against Germany's culture of military sacrifice.

Gallery label from Käthe Kollwitz, March 31–July 20, 2024
One from a portfolio of eight woodcuts (including cover)
composition: 13 3/4 x 19 1/2" (34.9 x 49.5 cm); sheet (irreg.): 18 11/16 x 25 3/4" (47.5 x 65.4 cm)
Emil Richter, Dresden
probably Fritz Voigt, Berlin
Gift of the Arnhold Family in memory of Sigrid Edwards
Object number
© 2024 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
War (Krieg)
Drawings and Prints

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