on the occasion of the Berlin Themenwinter
100 Years of Revolution – Berlin 1918/19
The end of the First World War in November 1918 led to a year of revolution, evoking civil-war like riots in Berlin.
The socialists Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg were murdered on the 15th January 1919.
Käthe Kollwitz portrayed Liebknecht on his deathbed and got to know the family of the murdered. The then 16-year-old son Robert Liebknecht applied to Käthe Kollwitz, asking her for her opinion of his talent. Käthe Kollwitz felt the urge to advise Robert to further his artistic education, as she found him „immensely talented. His drawings being of enormous temperament.“
Robert Liebknecht pursued his artistic path, studied in Berlin at a private art school under Hans Baluschek and Willy Jaeckel and later at the Academy of Art in Dresden under the late impressionist Robert Sterl, who was famous for his portraits of the working class, of musicians as well as his atmospheric paintings of Russia.
Robert Liebknecht developed an interest in the depiction of landscapes, urban areas and the people in their urban environment. After just a short period as a masterclass student under Sterl he returned to Berlin in 1930 and settled down in the north of the city, in Wedding. The Berlin surroundings, the street life, everyday scenes in cafes were his pictorial topics.
In 1933 he immigrated to France, where he refined his style – it became more intense with vivid colours. However, his situation still remained difficult: an internment in 1940 was followed by an escape to the south of France, and in 1943 eventually taking flight to Switzerland. In 1948 Liebknecht returned to France and became a French citizen in the 50s. Robert Liebknecht died in 1994 in Paris and is buried in Friedrichsfelde cemetery in Berlin.
The Käthe Kollwitz Museum shows Robert Liebknecht’s early work of his time spent in Dresden and Berlin in a special exhibition. The exhibited works of art prove Käthe Kollwitz’ assessment of him being a „very talented“ artist. Ca. 40 paintings, drawings and graphics are exhibited in the Kuppelsaal of the Käthe Kollwitz Museum.
From its own inventory parallel to the early work of Robert Liebknecht, the Museum presents drawings, variations and prints from the Gedenkblatt für Karl Liebknecht by Käthe Kollwitz from the years 1919/20.