She is the most famous German woman artist of the twentieth century and yet an exception: Käthe Kollwitz (1867–1945). From 20 March to 9 June 2024, the Städel Museum is devoting a comprehensive exhibition to Käthe Kollwitz, presenting her in all her diversity, expressive power, and modernity. She boldly chose prints and drawings as her essential media, finding in them an independent visual language of great immediacy. From a new perspective, her art addressed existential human questions and was therefore politically appropriated by many attitudes and issues in post-war Germany.

The Städel Museum has an extensive collection of works by Käthe Kollwitz, including almost all of the prints published in editions, as well as prints and drawings reworked by hand. The exhibition at the Städel Museum presents more than 110 impressive works on paper, sculptures, and early paintings by the artist from this remarkable collection as well as from leading museums and Kollwitz collections. Surprising, unconventional works such as Self-portrait with head in hand (1889/91, Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln, Cologne), works unusually painterly for Kollwitz such as Female nude seen from the back with green shawl (1903, Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin) and Parisian Cellar Tavern (1904, Sprengel Museum Hannover), and selected sculptures such as Tower of Mothers (1937/38, Museum Folkwang, Essen) will be presented together with other outstanding loans from, among others, the Berlin Kupferstichkabinett, the Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln, Cologne, the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, and the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, among others.

Philipp Demandt, Director of the Städel Museum, states: ‘In March 2024, we will pay tribute to Käthe Kollwitz in a major exhibition and shed new light on her oeuvre from perspectives that are partly familiar and partly less so, both in terms of form and content. Kollwitz is one of the most successful German women artists ever. At the same time, she is not an easy artist, and sometimes even an uncomfortable one: Her prints and drawings comment on a whole range of socially and politically relevant issues, and Kollwitz and her work have thus often been instrumentalised in Germany. For the Städel Museum, this is an important reason to enable an unbiased encounter with this important artist of classical modernism.’

The exhibition at the Städel Museum allows visitors to experience Kollwitz’s work in all its diversity and impressive quality through various chapters. The focus is on her choice of the graphic medium and on unusual themes that are both existential and topical. The memorable imagery, the dramaturgically pointed compositions, and the bodies grouped in expressive choreographies are explored through individual groups of works. The focus is on Kollwitz’s experiments with colour and form, the processual nature of her work, and the tension between politics and aesthetics. Last but not least, the exhibition offers an overview of how the artist was interpreted in the two German states after 1945, a very special history of reception that in some cases still has an impact today.

Curator: Dr. Regina Freyberger (Head of Prints and Drawings after 1800, Städel Museum)
Exhibition dates: 20 March – 9 June 2024

Sponsored by: DZ BANK, Gemeinnützige Kulturfonds Frankfurt RheinMain GmbH With additional support from: Georg und Franziska Speyer’sche Hochschulstiftung, Wolfgang Ratjen Stiftung

The detailed press information can be found here.

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