Kathe Kollwitz is one of the most important female artists in the modern world. Although her revolutionary style brought her difficulties during her lifetime, she created a milestone for female artists by focusing on the sufferings of the underprivileged. The Mothers is part of a collection called “War.” In the collection, Kathe Kollwitz revealed the difficult years of World War I. She focused on the emotions of the women and children who were left behind and wanted her collection to be widely viewed. She wanted to show the people what they were ignoring (“The Mothers”).
In the woodcut The Mothers, Kollwitz showed the fear and grief shared by women and children during World War I. The women are crowded together and supporting each other, while the children hide under the wings of their mothers. They might be mourning the loss of a family member or a relative in the war. At the same time, the mothers seem to be creating a human shield for their children against an attack, which explains the title of this woodcut. The contrast between black and white, with the vast expanse of white surrounding the people in black, shows the solitude of the people who are left behind. They can only share their loneliness and grief with each other.
“Kathe Kollwitz.” National Museum of Women in the Arts. 28 April 2011. <http://www.nmwa.org/collection/profile.asp?LinkID=511>.
Kollwitz, Kathe. “The Mothers.” The Museum of Modern Art. 17 April 2011. <http://www.moma.org/collection/browse_results.php?criteria=O%3AAD%3AE%3A3201&page_number=16&template_id=1&sort_order=1>.