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"A few lines, a few strokes, a little color at times"

Though popular to this day, “Father Zille” still has a hard time proving that he deserves his place among serious artists. The joke-sheet illustrator and surveyor of milieus cultivated a reputation as an entertainer; this hurt the illustrator of Simplicissimus and the Lustige Blätter in the 1920s. Zille, creator of extraordinary sketches, had sunk into such obscurity that his appointment to the Academy of Arts in 1924 caused surprise and that a retrospective exhibition for his 70th birthday in 1928 introduced an unknown artist to most visitors.

Heinrich Zille, Mann vor einem Bretterzaun, 1901, Kreidezeichnung
Heinrich Zille, Mann vor einem Bretterzaun, 1901, Kreidezeichnung © Privatbesitz

The exhibition focuses on subjects that closely resemble those in Käthe Kollwitz’s work: the marginalized and those who lost out from industrialization and urbanization.
Themes such as prostitution, alcoholism, unemployment, child poverty, and precarious housing conditions drove both artists in equal measure. Unlike Kollwitz’s work, the tragedy of Zille’s depictions often threatens to fade among his laconic and humorous captions. The Käthe Kollwitz Museum Berlin would like to use this exhibition to bring this “duo of great skechers” (as Fritz Stahl coined them in 1928) into greater awareness.

On display are more than 50 works from a private collection in Berlin, including early, elaborately reworked prints, color etchings, color drawings, and pencil sketches.

Berlin’s Käthe Kollwitz Museum will move into its new location at Charlottenburg Palace in early summer 2022. Heinrich Zille once lived across from its theater building, on Sophie-Charlotten-Strasse, from 1892 until his death in 1929. This exhibition is therefore also our first step towards our new location.
Additional information
Opening hours
  • daily 11.00 - 16.00
  • Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve closed

Price info: Free admission for people under 18, students and apprentices

Price: €7.00

Reduced price: €4.00
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