Sunday, December 16, 2012

Dead children / Kollwitz

With the death of a large number of deaths of Kindergarden and grade one students in another school schooting in the United States this week, and an entire world seemingly mourning these utterly senseless deaths with a great cry of "Why?",  a Kaethe Kollwitz drawing appeared in my Facebook newsfeed.

Many of Kaethe Kollwitz's pictures are on Google images here.

This is the one a friend shared on Facebook:

This is one I've shared before from my hymnbook, titled:  the parents.

This is just amazing art.  How much can  be captured in one simple black and white image.  Astounding.  What is left to say.  We didn't know what to say to begin with.  Now we can just look at this.

Her silent lines penetrate the marrow like a cry of pain; such a cry was never heard among the Greeks and Romans.
--We learn from Wikipedia

Interesting--the bringing in of the Greeks and Romans, all that beauty and nothing but beauty.   But to Kaethe Kollwitz it was also beauty.  This is what gets me:

"The motifs I was able to select from this milieu (the workers' lives) offered me, in a simple and forthright way, what I discovered to be beautiful.... People from the bourgeois sphere were altogether without appeal or interest. All middle-class life seemed pedantic to me. On the other hand, I felt the proletariat had guts. It was not until much later...when I got to know the women who would come to my husband for help, and incidentally also to me, that I was powerfully moved by the fate of the proletariat and everything connected with its way of life.... But what I would like to emphasize once more is that compassion and commiseration were at first of very little importance in attracting me to the representation of proletarian life; what mattered was simply that I found it beautiful."[8]

She didn't say that she didn't care, but she was attracted by the beauty of "proletariat" life.  In fact, she was quite an ideologue with a socialist and anti-war posture.  But no doubt, never-minding the ideology, or the reasons for the art, the feelings and the problems depicted were genuine, human and compelling.  We all would like a just world without war and children or anyone else dying before their time.   She captured some of the pain.  This is good.  It is even "beautiful".  Just like Good Friday is good and Christ's glory is in the cross.  Like humanity is found in pain and loss and trial.  Like when I am weak that's when I'm strong. 

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