Art: The Alternative Tradition


It is a strange paradox that tragedies such as Lear are in fact fundamentally optimistic. The tragic poignancy of Kollwitz's The Downtrodden is meaningful to us only because of the subject's violation of our sense of common humanity, and the resulting impulse to re-assert the values involved.

The Downtrodden by Kollwitz

The Downtrodden by Käthe Kollwitz

Her image of martyred humanity is all the more powerful for being derived from the dead Christ of her (sixteenth-century) fellow German artist Hans Holbein. --