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Art Talk Live: Käthe Kollwitz and the South African Left

A woman presses her cheek against the long blade of a scythe as she works to sharpen it with her riddled hands.
Käthe Kollwitz, German, Whetting the Scythe, plate 3 from the cycle Peasant’s War, 1905. Etching printed in black ink on off-white wove paper. Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Museum purchase, BR33.36. © Estate of Käthe Kollwitz, Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn.

Gallery Talk

German artist Käthe Kollwitz’s reception in the Global South has only recently begun to be considered. Known for its socialist and anti-war sentiments, her work was largely introduced to South Africa by exiles fleeing Nazism, and her prints became an important touchstone for many of the country’s politically minded artists in the years leading up to and during apartheid.

Looking to Kollwitz’s 1905 cycle, Peasant’s War, Jessica Williams will explore how these images circulated among South Africa’s Left and how her work came to influence an entirely new generation of lesser-known modernists.

Led by:
Jessica R. Williams, graduate intern at the Harvard Art Museums and Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University

This talk is part of a series inspired by ReFrame, a museum-wide initiative to reimagine the function, role, and future of the university art museum. These talks examine difficult histories, foreground untold stories, and experiment with new approaches to the collections of the Harvard Art Museums, reflecting the concerns of our world today.

This talk will take place online via Zoom. Free admission, but registration is required. To register, please complete this online form.

For instructions on how to join a meeting in Zoom, please click here. If you have any questions, please contact am_register@harvard.edu.

Art Talks Live are presented via Zoom every other Tuesday at 12:30pm (ET) and offer an up-close look at works from our collections with our team of curators, conservators, fellows, and graduate students.

The Harvard Art Museums are committed to accessibility for all visitors. For anyone requiring accessibility accommodations for our programs, please contact us at am_register@harvard.edu at least 48 hours in advance.