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Exhibition Art in Action: Herblock and Fellow Artists Respond to Their Times

Käthe Kollwitz (1867–1945). Self Portrait, 1924. Woodcut. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. © 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn. (043.00.00)

Self Portrait as Revelation

Käthe Kollwitz created many self-portraits, which like all of her work, were strongly shaped by her personal life. Exposure to the marginal living conditions endured by her doctor husband’s working class patients and the death of her son in World War I represent two factors that moved her to create art that protested war and injustice. In this portrait, Kollwitz portrays herself unsparingly, carefully drawing the many lines and hollow eyes that render her face so expressive of deep sadness.