Käthe Kollwitz’s Self-Portrait en face
A curator explains why Kollwitz’s assertive representation of herself is a game-changer for MoMA—and for early modern art.
Jun 30, 2022
Käthe Kollwitz. The Mothers (Die Mütter) from War (Krieg) 1921–22, published 1923
By 1904, when she made Self-Portrait en face, Kollwitz was 37 years old and, against the odds, one of the most acclaimed artists in Germany. In an art world dominated by men and centered on painting, she forged her own path, developing a printmaking practice that focused on the plights of women and the working class. She underscored her artistic ambitions in Self-Portrait by taking a virtuoso approach to color lithography and by presenting herself in a powerfully assertive frontal pose. Banishing any ladylike accessories or ingratiating gestures, she allowed her face to emerge unadorned from a stark, black-blue background. Creating this self-portrait only a few years after the turn of a new century that held the promise—and, for some, the threat—of unprecedented advancements for women, Kollwitz announced herself as confident, candid, and unfettered by conventional notions of the feminine.
New to MoMA
Leonora Carrington and the Visual Language of Mexican Surrealism
Two new acquisitions display the artist’s interest in the occult.
Cara Manes, Anne Umland
Feb 19, 2020
Paula Modersohn-Becker’s Self-Portrait with Two Flowers in Her Raised Left Hand
Sturgeon bladders and surgical tools breathe new life into a painting.
Sep 12, 2019