About this artwork
The intimate dramas playing out in this gallery draw their emotional power from the vulnerability of the exposed human form. Featured in these voyeuristic prints and drawings are private scenes of tragedy, tenderness, and horror, as artists intruded upon such previously forbidden settings as the bedroom, the deathbed, and the crime scene. While Félix Vallotton’s Intimacy woodcuts address the theme of undressing, with John Sloan’s playful Turning Out the Light and Gustav Klimt’s Seated Woman verging into the erotic, other images depict serious illnesses and the deaths of family members, especially children, which were commonplace events throughout the 19th century.
Making an explicit connection between sex and death is Otto Dix’s Murder, which pairs a bloody corpse with two dogs in the act of copulation. The Northern European artists Käthe Kollwitz and Edvard Munch drew on personal experiences for their devastating images of loss, seen here in stark scenes of grief. Kollwitz and the caricaturist Honoré Daumier (in an unusually somber mood) used similar iconographies of partially exposed corpses to make political statements: Daumier criticized the contemporary French government’s excessive response to a lower class riot in his Rue Transnonian, while Kollwitz drew on her own socialist sympathies in evoking war horrors in Raped, part of her series about the disastrous 1525 German Peasants’ War. The scattered feet of the family members in Daumier’s Transnonian and the nearly invisible child’s head to the left of Kollwitz’s splayed female body remind the viewer of these scenes’ universal themes.
Currently Off View
- Prints and Drawings
- Käthe Kollwitz
- Death, Mother and Child
- Black chalk and charcoal, with stumping and erasing, on brownish gray wove paper
- 645 × 464 mm
- Gift of Noel and Florence Rothman
- © 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn