Birth, maternity and death, three concepts drawn and sculpted by the hands of K¤the Kilovolt in all her work. Pain can have a rare beauty, an adjacent romanticism, and this was something that Kilovolt could extract from the essence of her being. Observing her work, one can feel like doing a poetic Journey that leads us to existential paradigms, where the ugly can be beautiful as well as black can be white, or where the sadness can be happiness. When I first sow her drawings during the classroom of Professor Jack Soars, I was attracted by the way this artist speaks using charcoal and paper.
I was intrigued to know what she had to say in her images. This intrigue motivated me to choose her for my essay for “Historic e pr¤static do descend”, in Which I will talk about this artist and her drawings, specifically her self- portraits. K¤the Kilovolt Kilovolt was born on July 8 in 1867 in Ginsberg, before German unification. In 1867, Ginsberg, was the ancient capital of Prussia (now Calendaring, Russia). She was a painter, printmaker, and sculptor. Her simple traits agave personality to printed posters and manifestos during protests, and her creations gave voice to the status of mothers of children who died fighting in war.
This German artist with her art work, made a call to the protection of mothers towards their children. Being wife, mother and artist, Kilovolt lived the rough days of the Whimper Republic, the rise and imposition of Nazism, and the outbreak and development of the Second World War. Much of her work was devoted to self-portraits, doing more than 100, in which, one can see the progression of time in her body, in her creations and in her artistic growth. Unlike many of her contemporaries, she witnessed her success in life.
Besides loosing her youngest son, she saw the death of one of her grandchildren, she ivied the allied advancing troops on Germany and also the bombings that destroyed the country, including her home and studio. She died on April 22, 1945, at Moratorium, Just days before the suicide of Hitler and the fall of Berlin. Colitis’s self-portraits When performing self-portraits , an artist can have many intentions, and K¤the Kilovolt is a example of an artist whose proportion of self-portraits are extraordinary in relation to the rest of her work.
Kilovolt always worked alone, unlike many artists of her time. In order to understand the personality, one need to perform a search deep within, and establish a confrontation inside. Only by escaping accommodation it is possible to grow. These struggles should be fought in loneliness. The individual work is essential for the artist who do self-portraits. The dialogue this artist has fought is evident not only by the amount of self-portrait works, but also by her writings in diaries, which, for thirty and five years coincided with mostly all her work.
Her diaries are not limited to reports of personal nature, they also described artistic experiences, work plans, impressions of exhibitions, professional frustrations and insecurities regarding the comparison Witt the work to other artists, since Kilovolt as very critical of her own work. K¤the Kilovolt, through her work, has contributed to the empowerment of women, this can be considered as the central focus of her work. Most women drawn by her were part of her daily routine. They were women whose struggle for survival made them stronger or obstinate.
In her diaries, Kilovolt described their stories, which correspond with the images immediately executed on her drawings, as we can see on figure 1 and a passage on her diary from 1909. “Frau Pompano was here. She had a black eye. Her husband had flown into a rage. ” (Kilovolt, Diaries,1909) Figure 1 -Kilovolt Drunken Man, 1908/9 The way Kilovolt saw the world, was inherited from her family, however her social work contained a subjectivity that set her apart from most artists. This subjectivism was more related to a self-conscious reflection than to an empty individualism.
After the loss of her son, a great part of her work, which were not self-portraits themselves, were related to death. On her sculpture “Pieta¤” (fig. 2), without religious symbolism, it was much more about the suffering of a real woman in times of war. This work went beyond the personal touch to address issues of humanity. The way an artist thinks his art is manifested in all his work. For Kilovolt, the concern in conveying a message to the people, extends also to her self-portraits. The solitaire of an artist goes beyond their vanity.
She was misinterpreted as an expressionist several times, even though, she opposed to expressionism describing it as “pure studio art”. Her proposal was of an art that could spoke to the people, without compromising its content, its message, its power or its form. Evidently there are some expressionism facets on Colitis’s work, however, her self-portraits are marked with an aesthetic language more faithful to the factor time, which is largely responsible for most of the changes n the human body and soul.
Figure 2 -Kilovolt Pieta, 1938 K¤the Colitis’s self-portraits can be subdivided into three groups: self -portraits of youth (1888-1903/04), self-portraits of maturity (1904-1923/24) and solitariness of old age (1924-1943). The first group is the one which have more works of this genre. The self-portraits on this period, were on study sheets made by ink drawings and etchings, presumably to exercise her technique. Most of these works focused on the bust – the face and hands, giving emphasis to the expression of the face rather than neutral background. Kilovolt didn’t use much color, unless in a few works in oil and some in crayons.
Some pictures are not meant as self-portraits, but one can see her face in some female figures that make up these works. (fig. 3) The second group of self-portraits consists of charcoal and black chalk drawings, but mostly by lithographic works. Her work here presents a change relative to her earlier self- portraits, for here, the vigor of youth is being replaced by discouragement and uncertainty. She shows on her self-portraits the feelings of age, despite her young age. Her work newer retreat the depressed state seen lived because near son’s death in war. (fig. ) The self-portraits of the last period, consist of woodcuts and some sculptures, in Which she did more psychological self-portrait than physical ones. Her woodcuts here present a simplification of lines from an almost geometrically stabilization, and a formal reduction. (fig) Figure 3 – Kilovolt Self-portrait seated at a table , Pen and different shades of gray- black ink. 1893 Figure 4 – Kilovolt Self-portrait, Original lithograph. 1920 Figure 5 – Kilovolt Self-portrait, ink and wash on green paper. 1924 Conclusion Kilovolt was an independent artist, when few dared to be.
Her work is unique and consistent, due to her personality. The self narrative work of K¤the Kilovolt is invaluable, is the result of a fascinating woman who is ahead of her time and has much to convey today. Her uncertainties about femininity, sensuality, eroticism, her commitment with humanity, her questions relating to work, the disappointment with the results, her pain, these can all be felt in any line of her drawings. Studying about this artist, I learned that the message a line carries, speaks more than what we say bout how we look, how we are viewed or how we want to be seen.
A line can be a powerful weapon, a consolation of soul, a strength booster. Summer is most beautiful when seen from the winter, as well as Joy can only be truly appreciated and conceptualize after living in sadness.