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Simms (Dr. Richard A.) collection of prints and drawings by Käthe Kollwitz and other artists
2016.PR.34  
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Collection Overview
 
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Description
The Dr. Richard A. Simms collection comprises 654 works on paper of which 530 are prints and working proofs and 124 are drawings. Assembled over a period of forty years, the core of the collection consists of 239 etchings, woodcuts, and lithographs and 47 drawings by Käthe Kollwitz; a total of 286 works by Kollwitz. Also included are prints and drawings by other significant artists in Kollwitz's orbit, including Ernst Barlach, George Grosz, Lovis Corinth, Max Klinger, Ludwig Meidner, Emil Nolde, Otto Greiner, among others.
Background
Dr. Richard A. Simms is a renowned California-based art collector of prints and drawings by Käthe Kollwitz and other 19th and 20th-century German artists. The online art newspaper ArtDaily reported in 2010: "Dr. Richard A. Simms is an internationally recognized collector of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century German prints and drawings. At the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, he was chair of the Prints and Drawings Council and then a member of the Board of Trustees for twelve years. He now serves as the inaugural chair of the Collections Council of the Getty Research Institute." Dr. Simms acquired his art collection in Europe and the United States between 1973 and 2014, focusing predominantly on individual prints and drawings as well as portfolios of prints and books illustrated with original graphics by German artists from the mid-19th century until the end of World War II. His collecting interests extended also to French artists from the 18th and 19th centuries; the Belgian artist James Ensor; and at the beginning of his collecting, early graphic works by Dürer, Rembrandt, Goya, and Callot. Over the years, prints and drawings by Käthe Kollwitz became Dr. Simms's principal passion, which he followed not only through intense study and acquisition of the often multiple states and impressions of her works, but also by building a comprehensive private library of publications about Kollwitz and other artists of her time. A decisive moment in the building of the Kollwitz collection came in 1978 with an acquisition from the artist's estate, which had been inherited by her grandchildren. At once, Dr. Simms acquired 121 prints, including many Kollwitz herself advised her family not to sell because of their rarity. This acquisition included early and unique impressions from her print series Ein Weberaufstand (Weaver's Revolt), Bauernkrieg (Peasants' War), Krieg (War), and Tod (Death); individual sheets such as self-portraits; and preparatory impressions for edition prints. From the same source, Dr. Simms also acquired a large drawing related to the monumental print Gedenkblatt für Karl Liebknecht (In Memoriam Karl Liebknecht). In the 1980s, Dr. Simms continued to acquire important prints and significant drawings by Kollwitz at auction, such as the early study for Kollwitz's narrative print Szene aus Germinal (Scene from Germinal) (1893). In the 1990s and 2000s, Dr. Simms continued to build the collection by adding rare proofs and state impressions, including rare working proofs for the series Peasants' War. In 1992, about fifteen years after he began collecting Kollwitz, expert in German Expressionist art, Hildegard Bachert pointed out, that Dr. Simms is "undoubtedly the most important Kollwitz collector in America today" and a collector who has a "… wide-ranging feeling for humanistically oriented graphic art." The quotation comes from the catalogue for the first survey exhibition devoted to Kollwitz in the United States. It was organized by the National Gallery of Art, which drew upon its own collection and works borrowed from more than twenty private collectors and museums in United States and Europe, including Dr. Simms. With over a hundred works on paper, the National Gallery of Art exhibition had a profound effect on Dr. Simms as it inspired him to explore Kollwitz's working process by seeking to acquire multiple states, and printing and working proofs of her works in order to provide comparative material that can enable scholars to explore how Kollwitz creates and changes the meaning of her artistic vision through the technical processes of printmaking. Käthe Kollwitz was born on July 8, 1867 in Königsberg, Prussia, the fifth child of Karl and Katherina Schmidt. Her father was a Social Democrat with strong socialist opinions opposing Otto von Bismarck's authoritarian government. Her mother was the daughter of Julius Rupp, a Lutheran pastor who founded a congregation independent from state or church control, that advocated freedom of conscience for its members. Kollwitz's upbringing was influenced by her family's liberal political, social, and religious views. Encouraged by her father, Kollwitz began taking lessons in drawing as a teenager in Königsberg. In 1886, she enrolled in a private art school for women in Berlin, where she took lessons from Karl Stauffer-Bern, who introduced her to the etchings of Max Klinger. In 1888, at the age of twenty-one, she became engaged to Karl Kollwitz, a medical student in Königsberg and a member of the Social Democrats. Despite her engagement, between 1888 and 1890 Kollwitz lived alone in Munich and studied at the Damenakademie München, an art school for women, as in Germany art academies did not accept female students until after World War I. In Munich she witnessed the breakthrough of naturalistic painting en plein air and took an interest in literature and issues related to womens' rights. She produced drawings and prints inspired by Émil Zola's novel Germinal. In 1891, Karl and Käthe married and settled in a working class neighborhood in Berlin, where Karl opened a medical practice as one of the first physicians implementing a new social and medical insurance for workers, which was the first European system of health insurance, raised from mandatory fees shared by the workers, the employers, and the state. They had two sons, Hans, born in 1892; and Peter, born in 1896. In her artistic work Kollwitz focused initially on drawing and graphics. She engaged in exploring various printing techniques, including etching, drypoint, aquatint, soft ground, woodcut and lithography; often experimenting by mixing various techniques and using unconventional tools, such as sand paper or needle bundles. In later years, she also turned to sculpture, while still producing graphic works. Inspired by Gerhard Hauptmann's naturalistic drama Die Weber (The Weavers) based on the revolt of Silesian weavers in 1844 and first performed in Berlin in 1893, Kollwitz produced a series of etchings and lithographs based on the weavers theme. The series was exhibited publicly in 1898 to wide acclaim, but when Adolf Menzel nominated her work for the gold medal at the Grosse Deutsche Kunstausstellung in Berlin, Kaiser Wilhelm II withheld his approval.
Extent
237.61 Linear Feet (3 boxes, 83 oversize boxes, 2 frames, 5 flatfile folders)
Restrictions
Contact Library Reproductions and Permissions.
Availability
Series I is restricted. Contact the repository for information regarding access. Series II is in process; unavailable for use until processing is complete.