Self-portrait, 1934

Crayon and brush lithograph (transfer), Kn 263 b

Käthe Kollwitz, Self-portrait, 1934, crayon and brush lithograph (transfer), Kn 263 b, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

In the self-portraits from her late period, the emphasis on her own personal life was progressively reduced in favour of a more generalising depiction, which facilitates a stronger sense of identification in the viewer.

In view of the threat of fascism at that time, this portrait has a very special poignancy. Käthe Kollwitz presented her pensive face in an unusually narrow image frame. Despite the extreme close-up view, this self-portrait appears distant as her eyes, ›the windows to her soul‹, seem distant, almost withdrawn.

This empty, introspective gaze not only reflects her constant examination of old age and death, but also her forced resignation from the Prussian Academy of Art in February 1934. »You begin to listen to your inner silence«, the artist wrote in her diary in 1936.

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