Dr. Callahan will discuss Civilization and its Discontents: European Culture, the Great War and Social Criticism in the Artwork of Käthe Kollwitz, 1890s-1930s. German artist Käthe Kollwitz lived in a critical and contradictory period in European history. European civilization was at its zenith in terms of power and prestige from colonial empires and industrial might to technological, artistic, and intellectual innovation. At the same time, European society was rent by internal social divisions, political disenfranchisement and was a hotbed for xenophobic, racist and nationalist ideologies, all of which erupted in the devastation of World War I. The artwork of Käthe Kollwitz gives clear expression to German Jewish cultural critic Walter Benjamin’s insight: “There is no document of civilization, which at the same time is not a document of barbarism.”
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