Indeed the artist Kaethe Kollwitz and I have one thing in common–we are both German. Before researching the print Brotherhood for the Masculinities exhibition, this was the only connection I felt with Kollwitz. She is very well known in Germany and during high school I learned a lot about her. However, she did not belong to my favorite artists because most of her works are dealing with war, poverty and the loss of her son, but what of Brotherhood. It shows two men in a close friendly embrace. This print does not only have a timeless statement about male friendship but also helped me to understand masculinity besides its margins and stereotypes.
Before taking the class “Rivalrous Masculinity” my answer to “What is masculine?” was: a strong, muscular, confident, dominant and powerful man. After taking the class and seeing all these artworks that are showing different masculinities, I was not so sure about the correct answer. What about a woman that is masculine, homosexual masculinity, medieval masculinity, the masculinity of Jesus Christ…? And is Masculinity only a performance and does not depend on the sex? Kaethe Kollwitz’s print evokes especially the question about the masculinity of male friendship. Two men embracing each other without being in a sexual relationship but showing deep emotions – is this still masculine? Before taking the class my answer would have been: No. After taking the class my answer is: Yes…
I hope this exhibition will also widen the horizons of some visitors and will show how masculinity can vary. Being masculine does not mean sticking to the stereotypes.
by Sarah Filter / Photo by J Caldwell