Sunday, April 13, 2014

"Der Polster (The Cushion)" by Max Kurzweil

This was another one of the prints I saw in an exhibition of Modern German Prints and Drawings from the Kainen Collection  at the National Gallery of Art in DC last weekend. I decided to write about it on its own since it clearly didn't fit in with the more crude and more emotionally charged Die Brucke prints I wrote about previously.

I've seen this image many times in reproduction, but this was the first time seeing it in person. It always sort of reminded me of Mary Cassatt's work, particularly her drypoint and aquatints, such as Woman Bathing (La Toilette) depicted below. Cassatt's women and children always have a sort of genteel atmosphere, no matter what common, everyday activity engages them.
Many of Max Kurzweil's women and girls appear wealthy, gorgeous, and posing in their best for the viewer. But the woman in Der Polster in depicted in a private moment of despair. She buries her face in her arm while one hand clutches the back of her seat.

Despite the emotions happening, this picture is so pretty. The pattern on the couch and the elegant lines outlining the folds in her dress, her hair, and the cushion, one cannot help but enjoy the sheer loveliness of the design. I can only imagine that this woman, when she has fully released her sorrow in seclusion, will lift her head and return to her refined life with grace. 

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