Thematic Series


The Department of Academic Programs and Public Education at Smith College Museum of Art; the Department of History at Smith College; the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center; the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency; the DEFA Film Library at UMasss Amherst; and the DEFA-Stiftung, Berlin.

Käthe Kollwitz: Filmic Images of a Life


Three (East) German feature films offer cinematic snapshots of the life of Käthe Kollwitz. Screenings at Smith College accompany a special exhibition MOTHER’s ARMS: Käthe Kollwitz’s Women and War, on view at Smith College Museum of Art, Jan. 29 to May 29, 2016.


Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945) was one of Germany's most important female artists of the 20th century. She worked as a painter, printmaker, sculptor, and was also involved in film. She was also known for her political engagement on behalf of the porr and downtrodden.


Films will be shown in Graham Auditorium, Hillyer Hall (Brown Fine Arts Center), Smith College. They are free and open to the public.



Monday, December 7, 7:30 pm 

The Lost Angel (Dir. Ralf Kirsten, GDR, 1966/71, 58 min., b/w, English subtitles) — On August 24, 1937, German artist Ernst Barlach learns that the Nazis have dragged his famous 1927 sculpture The Hovering Angel—which bears the features of artist Käthe Kollwitz—out of the Güstrow Cathedral.


“Masterful!”        —The New York Times




Friday, February 12, 7:00 pm
(Part of Second Friday at SCMA*)

Käthe Kollwitz: Images of a Life (Dir. Ralf Kirsten,GDR, 1987, 95 min., color, English subtitles) — Käthe Kollwitz was 47 years old and a well-established artist in Germany and abroad, when Peter, her youngest son, volunteered to fight in WWI and was killed. This painful tragedy changed Kollwitz’s life and art forever. This film fits parts of Kollwitz’s unpublished letters and diaries together in a mosaic-like self-portrait.


“A thoughtful, beautiful film.”         —Henriette Kets de Vries, Smith College Museum of




Friday, March 11, 7:00 pm
(Part of Second Friday at SCMA*)

Kuhle Wampe, or Who Owns the World? (Dir, Slatan Dudow; Script, Bertolt Brecht: Music, Hanns Eisler; Germany, 1932, 69 min., b/w, English subtitles) — This Weimar Republic classic tells the story of a working class family in Berlin in the early 1930s, when massive unemployment makes it difficult to survive. Living in Berlin’s working class district, Prenzlauer Berg, Käthe Kollwitz reflected upon the plight of workers and the unemployed in her art.


Prometheus Film produced both Kuhle Wampe and Mother Krausen’s Journey to Happiness (1929), in which Kollwitz was involved.


“One of the best films of the century.” — Village Voice



* Second Fridays at the Smith College Museum of Art—free and open to all from 4–8pm.

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