*NSFW* || The Incomplete Araki

*But if you are at work and looking, I promise not to judge you…!

New York’s Museum of Sex is nowhere near the top of my ”places-to-see” list; it didn’t even make it to my ”tourist-traps-but-should-go-at-least-once” list. That was until ”The Incomplete Araki” a major retrospective about the erotic, provocative, sensual, eclectic and deeply, deeply personal work by one of the most notorious photographers of our times came up, back in 2018;  it was time to make an exception.

Lady Gaga
Nobuyoshi Araki, 2011
Gelatin silver print

This print originally comes from a 2009 photoshoot with Lady Gaga for Voguy Hommes Japan, and is distinctive because it combined for the first time Gaga’s particular brand of global superstardom and Araki’s signature use of bondage.


Self-portrait with Yōko (Colourscapes)
Nobuyoshi Araki, 1991
C-print

In all the ways that Araki chooses to represent himself in his photography – whether it be via self-portrait, metaphor, brushstroke or through documentary practice – perhaps none are so charged as the ones where he seeks to express how his marriage to his wife Yōko resulted in the most complex and private component of his identity.


Colourscapes
Nobuyoshi Araki, 1991
C-print


Winter Journey
Nobuyoshi Araki, 1989-90/2005
Gelatin silver print


Sentimental Journey
Nobuyoshi Araki, 1971/2017
Gelatin sliver print

”There is a picture of Yōko sleeping on a boat on the Yanagawa River,” Araki has said, about on of his favourite images from Sentimental Journey. ”It was our honeymoon, so she was exhausted from all the sex. In Japan we say that you cross the Sanzu River when you depart to the ‘other world’. I had no intention of taking a picture like that, so I feel like maybe God or someone made me take that picture. Her posture is like that of a fetus.”


Araki and Yōko met while they were both employed at the Japanese advertising firm Dentsu, in the late 1960s. They were married in 1971 and for the next 19 years, their relationship – everyday life, sex, their cat Chiro, Yōko’s sudden diagnosis of ovarian cancer, her illness, her death, her funeral – would be the basis for photographic work infused with intimacy, unabashed directness and a kind of evolving understanding that even the ferocious love Araki felt for Yōko would end, like all journeys do.

Complement:

Start your day with a good breakfast together, 2009
From the series Experimental Relationship
Chromogenic prints

&

Soft-heeled Shoes, 2013
3D printed Polyjet photopolymers, suede shoes, metal

by Pixy Liao


India in Woodstock, 2013
From the series Pheromone Hotbox

&

Céline, 2016
From the series Vénéneuse

by Amanda Charchian


Museum of Sex, Manhattan

February 18th, 2018

David Hockney

What I was saying yesterday, about popular exhibitions? Well, David Hockney’s major retrospective held at the Met between November 2017 & February 2018, was one of them.  Impossible to enjoy – oftentimes not being able to see anything at all, multiple rows of heads obscuring the art. So crowded were the galleries, we soon gave up. But not before catching at least a few striking images on camera, the most ”presentable” of which I’m glad to share today with you.

Art:

1/ & 2/
My Parents, 1977
Oil on canvas

3/
Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy, 1968
Acrylic on canvas

4/
The Cha-Cha That Was Danced in the Early Hours of 24th March, 1961
Oil on canvas

5/
Self-portrait, 1983
Charcoal on paper

David Hockney @The Metropolitan Museum of Art

February 17th, 2018

Met Breuer

Edvard Munch always makes a strong impression but, in this case, the same can be said about the host building. This is Met Breuer, built in 1966 and named after its Brutalist architect Marcel Breuer, who designed it to house the Whitney Museum – and so it did until 2015, when the Whitney moved to its current location in downtown Manhattan, and this beautiful concrete ”inverted ziggurat” was leased by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Artwork from “Delirious Art at the Limits of Reason 1950-1980”, an exhibition running in parallel to Edvard Munch’s “Between the Clock and the Bed”.

 

Credits:

Cob II, 1977-80 by Nancy Grossman
Wood, leather, painted horn, lacquer, lead

13/3, 1981 by Sol LeWitt
Painted balsa wood

Beginning Study for Changes and Communication, 1978 by Alfred Jensen
Oil on canvas

Three Mirror Vortex, 1965 by Robert Smithson
Stainless steel, three mirrors

My Father Pledged Me a Sword, 1975, by Anselm Kiefer
Watercolour, gouache, coloured pencil and ballpoint pen on paper

Met Breuer, 945 Madison Avenue, Manhattan

December 28th, 2017

Edvard Munch Art

As intrigued as I was in discovering Munch the Photographer, I couldn’t wait to renew my acquaintance with some of the inspiring, melancholic and – at times – tormented, works of Munch the Painter; and be reminded that there’s more loneliness in Munch the Man and a deeper agony than what he let us see/hear with ”The Scream”.

Self-Portrait, 1886
Oil on canvas


Self-Portrait with Cigarette, 1895
Oil on canvas


Self-Portrait with the Spanish Flu, 1919
Oil on canvas


Self-Portrait with a Bottle of Wine, 1906
Oil on canvas


Self-Portrait by the Window, ca. 1940
Oil on canvas


Inheritance, 1897-99
Oil on canvas


The Sick Child, 1896
Oil on canvas


Sick Mood at Sunset: Despair, 1892
Oil on canvas


Despair, 1894
Oil on canvas


Death in the Sick Room, 1893
Oil on canvas


Madonna, ca. 1895-97
Oil on canvas


Puberty, 1894
Oil on unprimed canvas


Ashes, 1925
Oil on canvas


Jealousy, ca. 1907
Oil on canvas


Model by the Wicker Chair, 11919-21
Oil on canvas


Edvard Munch: Between the Clock and the Bed @ Met Breuer, November 2107 – February 2018.

December, 28th 2017

Edvard Munch Photography

It was nearing the end of 2017 and New York was in the mood for Munch with not one, but two exhibitions running in parallel. These images are from ”The Experimental Self”, which focused on Munch’s experimentations with photography showing portraits of friends and family – but mainly of himself.

Did you know that Munch was probably one of the first artists in history to ever take selfies? The Kiss IV, 1902
Woodcut with gouges and fretsaw


Moonlight II, 1902
Woodcut with gouges and fretsaw


The Experimental Self @ Scandinavia House

December 20th, 2017

Items: Is Fashion Modern? @ MoMA

On October 1st, 2017, MoMA opened a new exhibition with the inquiring title ”Items: Is Fashion Modern?”, sparking waves of excitement across the worlds of fashion and design. Not so much because of the items themselves, which were mainly clothes and accessories we are all familiar with in our everyday lives, but mainly because ”Items” was the first fashion show that MoMA had organised in more than 70 years, the last time being in 1944 with a similarly inquiring exhibition, called ”Are Clothes Modern?”

The 2017 show consisted of 111 items of clothing and accessories that had had a strong impact on the world in the 20th and 21st centuries. It had also invited some designers, engineers, and manufacturers to reexamine these familiar items with the view of rendering them – or at least some versions of them – useful, updated and ”Modern” further into the future.

Robin From Skin Series, 2006
Tamae Hirokawa, Japanese, b. 1976 – Somarta, Japan, founded 2006
Tights

Somarta developed a computer-aided design and manufacturing process to produce seamless, three-dimensional knitted garments that are halfway between tattoos and tights


Le Smoking, 1967
Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche


StarckNaked, 1997
Philippe Starck for Wolford
Little Black Dress


Pia Interlandi, Australian, b. 1985
Garments for the Grave, founded 2012
Little Black (Death) Dress, 2017

Pia Interlandi’s Little Black Dress incorporates all of the classic principles of the LBD – versatility, sophistication and understated glamour – to form, in the words of the designer, a garment ”to carry one from this world to the next, a garment literally created for the grave.” The ensemble upends the traditional relationship between person and dress: its wearer participates in its creation but never sees herself wearing the final result; its major function is to shroud a lifeless body. Interlandi uses a fabric that is responsive to the touch of the hands of grieving loved ones, turning from black to white through the transfer of body heat. The act is a symbol of the energy embodied in the process of decomposition and the cycles of mourning, from despair to acceptance. Sandals, S/S 1996
Martin Margiela


Bernard Rudofsky, architect and designer, American, born Austria, 1905-1988

One of the items presented in the 1944 exhibition ”Are Clothes Modern?”. A statue representing what a female body should have looked like to match the fashion of that particular time in history. This one, the bustle of 1875, transformed its wearer into a four-legged centaur.


Boots, fall 2010
Noritaka Tatehana, Japanese, born 1985


Shoes, 1993
Andrew Buckler and Johanne Price, British


Boots, 1987
Vivienne Westwood


Boots made for Elton John, 1974
Unknown desinger


A-POC Queen, 1997
Issey Miyake & Dai Fujiwara

A-POC Queen is a textile generated from a single thread by a computer-programmed industrial knitting machine.  The customer can cut along the seams without destroying the tubular structure of each individual item, and virtually no material is wasted in the process of creating – without needle or thread – a complete monochromatic outfit from this single swath of cloth. Jumpsuit Specimen, 2017
Richard Malone, Irish, born 1990


Sleeping Bag Coat, designed 1973, manufactured 2017
Norma Kamali


Poster Dress, 1967
Harry Gordon, American, 1930-2007

Disposable paper dresses became widely available by 1966, eschewing tailoring and washability in favour of affordable, faddish designs. Graphic designer Harry Gordon released a series of poster shift dresses inspired by pop culture and politics, including a 1967 version with an image of Bob Dylan; the packaging encouraged buyers to repurpose it as a poster or pillow covers.


Bret.on 2017
Unmade, UK, founded 2014

Bret.on is a reinterpretation of the classic Breton shirt by the fashion technology company Unmade, which allows brands and individuals to create unique, customized knitted garments on an industrial scale.


Chinos, 2017
The Sartists, South Africa, founded 2013

A collective of young designers based in Johannesburg and Cape Town, The Sartists combine collaborative design processes, found materials, astute brand awareness and reflections on their country’s political history, namely apartheid and colonialism.


Safari jacket 1969-70 & Pantsuit S/S 1970
Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche


Suit, 1970
Bill Blass


Zoot suit, 1940-42
Unknown designer, U.S.A.


T-shirt 2017
Hanes


Ray-Ban Sunglasses, 1970s

When American test pilot Major Rudolph William ”Shorty” Schroeder injured his eye mid-flight in 1920, fellow pilot Lieutenant John Macready, alongside optical company Bausch & Lomb, designed googles to mitigate both frost formation and sunlight, aptly named Ray-Ban. These goggles in turn inspired the development of sunglasses branded the Ray-Ban Aviator in 1938.


MoMA, December 3rd, 2017

Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive

In 2017, MoMA – jointly with Columbia University – acquired the vast archives of Frank Lloyd Wright, one of the most prolific architects of the 20th century. To mark that acquisition, as well as the 150th anniversary of his birth on June 8, 1867, MoMA presented Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive, an exhibition that comprised some 450 works made from the 1890s through the 1950s and included architectural drawings, models, building fragments, films, print media, furniture, tableware, textiles, paintings, photographs, and scrapbooks. According to its curator, Barry Bergdoll, the show was meant “to announce that Frank Lloyd Wright is open to new interpretations” and that “the archive is here and it’s open.”

Having had a closer look on Mr. Wright’s incredibly detailed, delicate, at once artistically accomplished and architecturally precise designs, I can attest to the show’s success in opening the work of one of America’s – and the world’s – greatest architects, to new interpretations. At least to my, not-so-expert, eyes.  Goron Strong Automobile Objective and Planetarium, Sugarloaf Mountain, Maryland
Project, 1924-25 // Pencil and coloured pencil on tracing paper

This project is often seen as a forerunner of the Guggenheim Museum, built two decades later.


Fallingwater (Kaufmann House), Mill Run, Pennsylvania 1934-37
Pencil and coloured pencil on paper

The bold design of a house over a waterfall for Pittsburgh department store magnate Edgar Kaufmann put Wright back in the public eye at a moment when he was increasingly anxious that his fame had faded. This drawing landed Wright on the cover of Time magazine in 1938 – he was only the third architect ever to receive that honour – and was also displayed that same year in an exhibition at MoMA devoted solely to his unprecedented house design.


Moore House, Oak Park, Illinois, 1895
Ink on paper


Madison Civic Center (Monona Terrace), Madison, Wisconsin
Project, 1938-59 // Ink and pencil on paper mounted on plywood

Even  as Wright reimagined Chicago as a city dominated by a few super-tall skyscrapers but otherwise given over to a prairie landscape, he also designed urban projects – many of the megastructures, such as this one for Monona Terrace, which integrated transportation and infrastructure with public and commercial programmes – with the intention of revitalizing urban cores and engaging the preexisting city and its surroundings. This project was realized decades after Wright’s death.


The Mile-High Illinois, Chicago
Project, 1956 // Pencil, coloured pencil and gold ink on tracing paper

In this perspective drawing, Wright inserts his imagined mile-high skyscraper into the lakefront area of Chicago, which he transforms into a green landscape, rendering obsolete many of the city’s older, densely packed towers. The Mile-High becomes a singular object, in dialogue only with another Wright proposal: a tower called the Golden Beacon, visible in the background.


Plan for Greater Baghdad
Project, 1957 // Ink, pencil and coloured pencil on tracing paper

In 1957, Wright, along with a number of ”starchitects” including Alvar Aalto, Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius, was commissioned to design a signature building in Baghdad as part of an Iraqi government programme to bring Western architecture to the capital city. Although asked only to design an opera house, Wright expanded the programme into an entire cultural centre – including a university, two museums, a zoo and various recreational facilities – and moved the site to an island in the Tigris River. Wright’s project, like most of the others, was cancelled after the revolution of 1958.


Butterfly Wing Bridge, San Francisco
Project, 1949-53 // Ink, pencil and coloured pencil on tracing paper


Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York 1943-59
Gouache on paper mounted on board


American System-Built Houses for the Richards Company
Project 1915-17


Bogk House, Milwaukee, Wisconsin – 1916-17
Watercolour, gouache, gold paint and graphite on paper mounted on Japanese paper

The two winged figures depicted in this sculptural frieze for the Bogk House recall, in their blocky, geometric forms, Mayan and Aztec motifs, while their wings resemble the eagle imagery prominent in the Pueblo Eagle Dance. The Eagle Dance was one of the most popular ceremonial dances performed at the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in San Diego, which Wright attended and where he encountered theories positing that contemporary American Indians were descendants of a venerable, ancient American civilization.


Lake Tahoe Resort, Lake Tahoe, California
Project, 1923-24 // Pencil and coloured pencil on tracing paper


Eugene Masselink (1910-1962)
Pattern studies // Pencil and coloured pencil on paper

Various cacti, rock formations and lichen are distilled into their essential organizing forms in these applied pattern studies, demonstrating the generative relationship between nature and architecture in Wright’s practice. According to Wright, the cellular structure of desert plants, for example, offered lessons in economical construction. Believing the artist should approximate nature through a process of conventionalization or abstraction – seeking underlying geometries rather than outward forms – Wright incorporated such pattern studies into his educational approach at the Taliesin Fellowship. Eugene Masselink, one of Wright’s most talented apprentices, drew these examples.

Frank Lloyd Wright and his assistant Eugene Masselink installing the exhibition Frank Lloyd Wright: American Architect at The Museum of Modern Art, November 13, 1940-January 5, 1941. Photographic Archive. The Museum of Modern Art Archives, New York
Photo: Soichi Sunami


Preliminary scheme for Imperial Hotel, Tokyo 1913-23
Ink and pencil on drafting cloth

The Imperial Hotel in Tokyo took over a decade to build and exerted a profound influence on both Wright’s designs and the architecture of a modernizing Japan.

Having survived the Great Kantō Earthquake in 1923 and the American bombing of the city during World War II, it was finally demolished in 1968 to be replaced with a modern hotel tower.

Portions of the Imperial Hotel, including the grand entrance/lobby and the reflecting pool, were saved and painstakingly relocated to the Meiji Mura Museum, an open-air architectural theme park in Inuyama that contains more than 60 historic, culturally significant buildings from Japan and beyond. [source]


March Balloons, 1955
Drawing based on a cover design for Liberty magazine, c. 1926


From Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive, an exhibition that ran through October 1st, 2017 at MoMA.

September 25th, 2017

The Idiosyncratic Eyes of Mme Bourgeois

Staring into your soul.

House 1994
Marble


the puritan 1990-97 (text: 1947)
Folio set no. 3: engravings with selective wiping, gouache and watercolour additions


Lullaby 2006
Series of twenty-five screenprints on fabric: title sheet and twenty-four compositions

Bourgeois created shapes by turning and tracing common household objects – scissors, a knife and a candy dish, among them. She published this set herself, under the imprint Lison Editions. Lison, Lise, Lisette, Louison and Louisette were among her childhood nicknames.


Ode à l’Oubli 2004
Fabric illustrated book with thirty fabric collages and four lithographs

The pages of this book are composed of linen hand towels saved from her trousseau. Many contain the embroidered monogram LBG (Louise Bourgeois Goldwater). Bourgeois later issued and editioned version of this book in twenty-five examples. In that version, the pages are tied together through buttonholes instead of bound so all of the pages can be displayed simultaneously, as seen on this wall.


Untitled 1998
Fabric and stainless steel


Stamp of Memories I 1993
Drypoint with metal stamp additions


Sainte Sébastienne 1992
Drypoint


Triptych for the Red Room 1994
Aquatint, drypoint and engraving

The subject of pain is the business I am in.“ – LB


Self Portrait 2007
Gouache on paper


Self Portrait 1990
Drypoint, etching and aquatint


I Redo (interior element) from the installation
I Do, I Undo, I Redo 1999-2000
Steel, glass wood and tapestry


Untitled 1940
Oil and pencil on board


Lacs de Montagne (Mountain Lakes), 1996 & 1997
Engraving and aquatint with watercolour, gouache and ink additions


Arch of Hysteria 1993
Bronze, polished patina


Spider 1997


Note from Louise Bourgeois: An Unfolding Portrait, an exhibition that ran at the MoMA, until end January 2018: ”[…] explores the prints, books, and creative process of the celebrated sculptor Louise Bourgeois (1911–2010). Bourgeois’s printed oeuvre, a little-known aspect of her work, is vast in scope and comprises some 1,200 printed compositions, created primarily in the last two decades of her life but also at the beginning of her career, in the 1940s. The Museum of Modern Art has a prized archive of this material, and the exhibition will highlight works from the collection along with rarely seen loans […].”

September 25th, 2017

Eloise at the Museum

So what if I haven’t read any of her stories? Who wouldn’t want to meet Eloise, a mischievous, annoying, adorable little girl, a native New Yawker, and one who lives in the “room on the tippy-top floor” of the Plaza with her Nanny, her dog Weenie and her turtle Skipperdee, at that. So, put on your comfy slacks and your fancy pink flats, and let’s go see what she has in store for us, shall we? Hilary Knight
Study for ”I have a dog that looks like a cat”, 1955
Pen and ink on paper


Hilary Knight
After Clayton Knight (1891-1969) and Katharine Sturges Knight (1890-1979)
Cover of The New Yorker, April 17, 1926, 1996
Gouache

Knight’s father, Clayton, specialised in aviation art. A pilot with the British Royal Air Force in World War I, he survived a crash landing in 1918 and went on to illustrate and write numerous books on the history of aviation. Clayton often collaborated with his wife, as in their cover for The New Yorker. Years later, Knight’s colour scheme for Eloise echoed its palette. His hand-painted copy of the cover is an homage to his parents’ work.


Hilary Knight
Eloise, 1956
Tempera on paper

A mystery surrounds this Eloise portrait. Painted in 1956 as a birthday gift for Kay Thompson, it vanished from the Plaza Hotel on November 23, 1960, the night of a Junior League debutante ball. ”Eloise kidnapped!” announced Walter Cronkite on CBS Evening News. In spite of Thompson’s offer of a reward, the painted failed to surface.

Two years later, Hilary Knight received a call. A muffled voice told him where his artwork was: in a dumpster, ripped to pieces. Devastated, he retrieved the ruined work and put in a closet.

But the puzzle remained. Who stole Eloise? In retrospect, Thompson herself was the only person who benefited from its disappearance. This may have been the stunt of her career, giving her ample press and a dramatic exit for the character she was done with. Staging a media moment and destroying Knight’s work underlined the primacy of the author’s voice. A final clue came when Thompson confessed in a 1993 interview that she had found the portrait ”on Eight-something Street… torn up.” There’s so much we’ll never know about Kay Thompson – and that’s just how she liked it.


Richard Avedon
Kay Thompson, 1951
Photograph

For her session with Richard Avedon, Thompson held a sequinned fan made by Knight. But the had not met yet! D.D. Dixon, Avedon’s assistant for the shoot, had borrowed the prop from Knight, her across-the-hall neighbour. Four years later, Dixon suggested to Thompson that her Eloise voice might make a good book, if she could find the right illustrator. She introduced Knight to Thompson at the Plaza’s Persian Room, in December 1954.


Kay Thompson and Evelyn Rudie, publicity still from the Playhouse 90 movie Eloise, 1956


Hilary Knight
Final illustration for ”I always stay at the National whenever I am in Moscow”, 1959
Pen &brush and ink & graphite on paper


Hilary Knight
Final illustration for ”Here’s what we did a lot of”, 1959
Graphite & pen and brush & ink with gouache on paper


rawther fluzzery picture, don’t you see?


Hilary Knight
Cover illustration for Truman Capote’s manuscript Can a Pig Fly?, 1958
Pen and ink and watercolour on paper

A curious project that never saw publication was Knight’s collaboration with the Truman Capote. The success of Dr. Seuss’ easy reader The Cat in the Hat in 1957 prompted the editors at Random House, its publisher, to ask their entire author list to try this popular new form. None made it to completion, but Knight and Capote enjoyed working together on sketches and notes.


Don Freeman
Kay Thompson, 1951
Lithograph on paper


Unidentified photographer
Kay Thompson and the Williams Brothers, ca. 1948

Eight songs, forty minutes and no encore. Thompson’s athletic act with the Williams Brothers was innovative, witty, and a smash success. Taking the concept of the overhead boom mike used on movie sets, Thompson had microphones strung all over the ceiling to allow the five performers to move freely about the stage. ”There’d never been an act like it”, Andy Williams said.


Edith Head
Kay Thompson’s office costume for Funny Face, 1956
Pen, ink and watercolour on paper

This meticulously detailed working drawing from Edith Head’s studio documents the cost of Thompson’s office outfit: $480 and another $65 for accessories.


Hilary Knight
Sketch for ”I AM ELOISE”, 1996
Watercolour, brush and ink, crayon and graphite on Bristol board


Eloise is the alter ego of cabaret star Kay Thompson (1909–1998), best known for her role as fashion magazine editor in Funny Face (1957), and her collaboration with writer and illustrator Hilary Knight (b. 1926), best known as the Man who Drew Eloise.

These and many more objects, manuscript pages, sketchbooks, portraits, photographs and vintage dolls were on view at the New-York Historical Society, back in 2017. If you missed it fret not. Think Pink and head over to the Plaza. You may just catch a glimpse of the elusive enfant terrible skibbling down the hallway. 

New-York Historical Society

September 23rd, 2017

Art of War

There is a sad beauty in these artworks drawing the tragedy of war.

Harry R. Hopps (1869-1937)
Destroy This Mad Brute-Enlist, 1917
Colour lithograph


French, early 20th century
The Great Nave: Wounded Soldiers Performing Arms Drill at the End of Their Medical Treatment, 1916
Gelatin silver print

During WWI, Paris’ magnificent Grand Palais, a Beaux-Arts structure that opened in 1900 as an exhibition hall, was repurposed as a temporary military hospital that served injured French soldiers. It held one thousand beds and had two operating rooms, as well as an extensive physical rehabilitation centre where soldiers could recover from their injuries, exercise and practice military drills before returning to the front. 


John Copley (1875-1950)
Recruits, 1915
Lithograph


Léon Spilliaert (1881-1946)
Rockets, 1917
Watercolour, gouache, graphite

Spilliaert served briefly in the Belgian civil guard after the German invasion. A pacifist by nature, he was greatly affected by the violence of war. Here, he depicts a deep blue sky illuminated by the flare of rockets, an image witnessed by both soldiers and civilians in occupied territories. The artist concentrated not on the rockets’ violent potential but on the graceful forms they generate and their resemblance to stars and comets


French, 20th century
After the Victory (Au Lendemain de la Victoire), 1918
Printed by Imprimerie Kapp
Published by Librairie Hachette & Co.
Colour lithograph

Many children lost loved ones to the war and were traumatized by the sounds and sights of combat. Ostensibly, celebrating victory, this book, like much wartime propaganda for children, reflects these dark events. Its interior presents images of rebuilding: each page shows a scene of destruction, but when a flap is raised, it shows the same site restored. 


Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945)
The Parents (Die Eltern), from War (Krieg), 1921-22
Printed by Fritz Voigt, Berlin
Woodcut

Pain,” Kollwitz noted, ”is totally dark.” This raw images portrays the profound grief of parents who, like the artist, lost a child to war. Kollwitz began working in this medium after seeing an exhibition of woodcuts by Ernst Barlach and being inspired by their graphic power; the War series is considered her most important in the technique. Kollwitz spent fifteen years working on a sculpture based on this print. The Grieving Parents, located in the cemetery for German soldiers in western Belgium where her son Peter is buried, is composed of two separate sculptures, showing the parents isolated in their despair.


George Grosz (1893-1959)
Background (Hintergrund), 1928
3 out of 17 photolithographs with printed portfolio


Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945)
Mothers (Muetter), from War (Krieg), 1919
Lithograph

In Mothers, women and children huddle together, their linked bodies forming a solid structure that fills the composition. Kollwitz drew herself in the centre, eyes closed and arms wrapped protectively around her two sons: Hans, the elder, and Peter, who was killed in combat at eighteen.


Images from ”World War I and the Visual Arts”, an exhibition exploring ”the myriad and often contradictory ways in which artists responded to the first modern war”.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

August 6th, 2017