Linocut print: Madonna and Child – After Kathe Kollwitz

Black and white linoleum block print by TenThousandUnicorns. A mother dressed in black holds a frightened and blindfolded child in front of her.
Madonna and Child – After Kathe Kollwitz

I’ve hardly talked at all about my printmaking on here, except for a fantastic Thanksgiving post (whoops and I posted “Mama’s lil Punk” I forgot about that). I had a lot of fun learning printmaking in Italy and I think some of my best work came from that period. Good teachers always help. This was my first piece in the Madonna & child/masterwork parody themes, and was what set off those themes in the first place. I was in Italy, pretty damn close to the seat of the Catholic Church, and religion was all around me. I really couldn’t help but be influenced by it.

The way this design came to be, was that our teacher gave us the option of making a linoleum block print based off Japanese woodcuts or Kathe Kollwitz’s work. Since I hadn’t seen much of Kathe’s work I decided to look at her. I immediately picked up on the themes of suffering and death in her work, which fit in perfectly with what I wanted to do. I searched for the perfect reference image…

Black and white drawing of a harrowed mother dressed in  black, holding three frightened children in front of her and surrounded by four more, several adults stand blindfold behind them.
Kathe Kollwitz’s drawing “The Survivors”

I found her painting “The survivors“, featuring a gaunt mother holding several small frightened children in her arms, with blindfolded men standing behind her. I focused on the mother figure holding the single child, and placed the blindfold over the child’s eyes. The shrouded mother, looking like death herself now held a small child, blind to his fate. This reflected the gaze often seen in renaissance Madonnas, a mother looking upon her child, knowing he will die. Likewise, it can be any world-weary mother wishing to shield their child from evil. It is a devotional image, a tribute to love and loss, good vs evil, and being beaten down but still surviving.


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