"Memorial for Karl Liebknecht," Käthe Kollwitz (1921)
"Memorial for Karl Liebknecht" by Käthe Kollwitz, 1921. Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg were among the founders of the Berlin Spartakusbund (Spartacus League) that evolved into the Communist Party of Germany. On January 15, 1919, Liebknecht and Luxemburg were shot to death during the Spartacus Revolt on the pretext that they were attempting escape. In this instance Kollwitz emphasizes grief and the human element over any explicit political reference. The version of the print exhibited here is not the original woodcut but a well-documented reproduction printed around 1921. The need to print this image in a large, mechanically-produced edition is testimony to the currency of its theme.
Birkle’s work represents the New Objectivity movement that encompassed much of the art produced in the Weimar Republic. Artists like Birkle challenged their viewers to see the world as it really was, rather than as they would like it to be. See full-sized image for analysis.