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May 23: Kollwitz and Levine whetting the scythe


whetting the sythe  etching 1905 []
“whetting the scythe”   etching   1905      []

Speaking of Kathe Kollwitz and her fixation on the theme of the peasants’ revolt (as we were last week), this etching hangs in my living room. Its powerful description arises from its monumental abstract strength– like a Franz Kline, with narrative.

On the wall next to Kollwitz we have David Levine’s puckish adaptation published in the New York Review of Books. In the corner he wrote, “Thanks, Kathe.”

Great as my admiration is for Levine’s work, and convincing as Stalin’s face is, it has to be admitted that for strength of drawing and boldness of design, Kollwitz is clearly the top dog here.



David Levine  "Stalin"  1978  [New York Review of Books]
David Levine “Stalin” 1978 [New York Review of Books]