Killed in Action (Gefallen)

Käthe Kollwitz German
Publisher Emil Richter, Dresden German

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Kollwitz’s younger son Peter volunteered for combat when the war began and died in October 1914 while fighting in Belgium. Killed in Action expresses the intense pain of those who lost loved ones in the war. The mother’s whole body reveals her devastation, while her children’s faces display a range of emotions—shock, horror, fear—as they rush to her side, She is too consumed with pain to acknowledge them. Kollwitz used lithography, a technique in which she noted "only the essentials count." This work has a raw, unfinished quality—lines appear quickly drawn and the son’s lower body is absent—and identifying details are eliminated, making Killed in Action a universal and timeless image of grief.

Killed in Action (Gefallen), Käthe Kollwitz (German, Kaliningrad (Königsberg) 1867–1945 Moritzburg), Lithograph

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