The Street, 1908

Charcoal and ink on laid paper, NT 464

Käthe Kollwitz, The Street, 1908, charcoal and ink on laid paper, NT 464, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

A version of this drawing was published in Simplicissimus on 28 December 1908. It shows a nocturnal scene with two drunk men asleep on a bench and a woman whose look and posture emphasises the bleakness of the situation. The publishers added the title »New Year’s Eve« and the caustic caption »I don’t want to wake up my husband to say Happy New Year. He’s sleeping like a baby.«

Unemployment is a central theme in the works she created for Simplicissimus. The impoverishment of the proletariat had resulted in many people living on the streets. Parks and squares with benches were popular with rough sleepers.

In the big cities, these people were often victims of petty crime, which Käthe Kollwitz addressed in anecdotal fashion in a drawing showing a pair of thieving rogues. The man keeps watch while the woman steals from a sleeping man.

CONTEXTUAL WORK

Käthe Kollwitz, Man, standing, and seated Couple, 1909, charcoal, blotted, on Ingres paper, NT 497, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

Käthe Kollwitz, Man, standing, and seated Couple, 1909, charcoal, blotted, on Ingres paper, NT 497

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