Kathe Kollwitz’s “Death and the Mother” Painting

Art for Art’s Sake

Because of the specific aesthetics and the incredible expressivity, every single piece of art by Kathe Kollwitz breaks the well-known idea about the impersonality of art. Because of the shades of meaning and the hidden suffering which her pictures are shot through with, every single painting of hers speaks it sown ideas, and it speaks loudly. One of her most well-known paintings, “Death and the Mother”, implies a variety of ideas which the audience is supposed to decipher.

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One of the greatest questions is whether art stays art as it conveys a certain idea. Taking merely a look at “Death and the Mother” is enough to confirm this idea. With its every line the picture tells those watching the story which brings tears to the eyes of all mothers in the world.

Casting a look at the picture is enough to feel that it sweeps away all the principles of art – to make them fuse most weirdly, stirring the emotions within and making them come into the open. One of the most important things about the picture, which fills it with the specific meaning and creates the necessary atmosphere, is that only the key details of “Death and the Mother” have been drawn; Kollwitz leaves the rest to the imagination of the audience, making them guess of what might have happened and why. Setting people’s fantasy loose, she follows the principles on which the very essence of art is based on.

Having chosen a perfect means to breathe life into the idea, Kollwitz has put it into practice in the most amazing way. The effect of incompleteness and the anticipation of something inevitable coming has been reached, which has made the picture complete. Is that a paradox – the paradox of Kollwitz? Perhaps, this is her unusual means to visualize what people have been trying to say for a thousand years.

Hearing the Author Think

Speaking of the idea which Kathe Kollwitz was meaning to portray in this whirlwind of emotions, it must be mentioned that the artist comes very close to where the line between the principle of rightness and its paradox is drawn. Depicting what troubled her most, Kollwitz touched on the secret strings in all people’ souls, which led to the specific

Indeed, the question of Kolwitz’s creation importance for the audience stands no longer; yet it is unbelievable how she manages to fix people’s eyes on a particular scene. Perhaps, the answer to this riddle is that Kollwitz pictures the things which are hidden deep inside people’s minds; these fears, inherited from our ancestors, are irrational, yet quite understood.

The death of a baby is one of the most terrible things which can happen to a woman, and this is why the picture sends shivers down people’s spines. Depicted with the incredible truthfulness and realism, the eyes of the mother, filled with horror and despair, send the audience through the same crucible of pain and suffer. Reaching the edge where her feelings come close to the fear concealed in the depth of each woman’s heart, Kollwitz creates the atmosphere shockingly real and at the same time bordering with the fantastic.

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The eyes of the mother, filled with fear and suffering, will not let the spectators go even as they leave the gallery. These eyes filled with sorrow and dread will haunt you once you see them – fear does not let go so easily. Intertwined with emotions, art can reach real geniality.

Being Touched by an Azrael

I find this piece of art very moving and a little bit frightening. Being the essence of fear and dread, this picture speaks to the audience directly, as if the death himself tapped the spectator on the shoulder. Because of the fantastic which borders on the real, I find this artwork truly amazing. It allows us to take a closer look at the human’s soul and see what I hid deep within.

Incredibly thought-provoking, this picture makes me think of what makes a mother. No matter how fragile and gentle a woman is, when defending her child, the woman becomes a she-wolf, wild and reckless – isn’t this miraculous? Turning the pain into decisiveness, a woman is ready to give her won life to defend the feeble little nothing which is to become another person, and, perhaps, change the world… Raising numerous what-if questions, the situation makes me think of the so-called butterfly effect.

What if the mother did not have enough power to protect the baby from the claws of death? What if the baby was destined to suffer even harder in the future? What if taking the baby now, Mr. Death was merely trying to spare the baby and its future, so mysterious now? Having no answer, these questions trouble the mind, teasing and triggering another string of suppositions.

However, the aesthetics of the picture slowly ousts the disturbing thoughts. Even grasped by the fear and shocked to the core, I cannot help admiring the genius of the artist. Kollwitz has managed to look into the deepest of a mother’s heart, and take the most painful out of it like a doctor pulls a splinter out of the patient’s finger. Calling tears to people’s eyes, this picture is noted than moving – it is engulfing me as pain does, and it produces almost the same effect as pain does. However, this is what true art must do – it must sting the spectator, making him/her feel the presence of something surreal. The pain will be stifled soon; only the haunting gaze of the eyes filled with terror, the eyes of the mother, will stay with me.

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StudyCorgi. (2020, December 29). Kathe Kollwitz’s “Death and the Mother” Painting. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/kathe-kollwitzs-death-and-the-mother-painting/

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StudyCorgi. 2020. "Kathe Kollwitz’s “Death and the Mother” Painting." December 29, 2020. https://studycorgi.com/kathe-kollwitzs-death-and-the-mother-painting/.


StudyCorgi. (2020) 'Kathe Kollwitz’s “Death and the Mother” Painting'. 29 December.

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