Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Kathe Kollwitz

Self  Portrait
The events of recent months have forced me to examine art and my place in it.-what it is to me and its value if any. I don't believe it should have one. I have seen people joyful over completing a painted fish on a dish from a craft kit from Kmart. Religion uses and has used imagery to frighten people into obedience. Each age either forces one to confront or use (or abuse) "art"  in a different way. It can be frivolous or other. We are awash in seductive imagery, hundred of images are vomited up every day on our iPhones, television sets, billboards, newspapers and of course the internet. Museum basements are bloated with canvasses that are no longer in fashion. Flea markets abound in "lost masterpieces". Each image that we see captures and controls  us for a few seconds- but how many do we remember.
History and the passage of time are the greatest of art critics.

Some artists do- at least for me, cut deeply through the clutter. This Kathe Kollwitz self portrait asks more of me than simply to admire its facility- It asks of me how am I living my life- not what meaning I find in life because that is a chimera, but what am I doing here now with what I have. What is.

Kathe Kollwitz was not only an exquisite draughtsman- she resisted the Nazis and died in Germany just before the end of World War 11. She was a woman of courage who had endured the loss of a son in World War I.

 3:AM December 8th  2016, it was announced that Donald Trump won the election. It is impossible to write about the darkness I felt and my fears not just for my country- but for the planet. One recent event has somehow rekindled my dwindling hope that there are people of courage and good faith in this country- the magnificent environmental and sacred sites protest by the Standing Rock Sioux that is enduring despite zero temperatures and a blizzard- though they won a nominal reprieve from the Army Corps of Engineers. It  was 2000 American war veterans that showed up to defend them that many think turned the tide. In one of the most moving scenes I have ever seen, one of the veterans- Wesley Clark Jr, son of the NATO high commander Wesley Clark Sr got down on his knees to ask the Indians forgiveness. This makes all and every protest art I have seen or heard of reek of insincerity and downright cheesiness.

For more on Kathe Kollwitz's life and art:


Jim Serrett said...

“I do not believe this darkness will endure.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien

Sharon Knettell said...

Thanks- I am feeling a bit glum.

ian warburton said...

One of the greats things about good drawing is what it communicates, or, if you will, what we as observers glean from it. Sometimes a drawing made swiftly and here I am thinking of a Rembrandt Saskia, will convey everything that one knows to be true and I think that comes through with this example too.

Your concerns are those of many of us. In Britain the "will of the people" all 37% of them, must be respected. Is the reference to Mordor too much? Time will tell.