Emily Elsas Wolf Memorial Fund, 1973.7
Selbstbildnis [Self-Portrait] (1924)
The Walter Landauer Collection of Käthe Kollwitz, 1965.47
Early twentieth-century European artists like Kollwitz and Felixmüller prized woodcut’s capacity to convey emotion. These two self-portraits were made in Germany during the tumultuous period between the First and Second World Wars.
Kollwitz’s print is dominated by a dense field of black ink, her face appearing to emerge out of darkness. She depicted herself through a radical simplification of means, carving just enough of the block to give her image life. Kollwitz worked primarily in etching and lithography before taking up woodcut in 1919. The rawness of woodcut helped her express the anguish she felt in the wake of World War I; her younger son died on the battlefield soon after enlisting.