CAKE and Käthe Kollwitz, “Persons of Interest”


BSA is in Berlin this month to present a new show of 12 important Brooklyn Street Artists at the Urban Nation haus as part of Project M/7.  PERSONS OF INTEREST brings to our sister city a diverse collection of artists who use many mediums and styles in the street art scene of Brooklyn. By way of tribute to the special relationship that artist communities in both cities have shared for decades, each artist has chosen to create a portrait of a Germany-based cultural influencer from the past or present, highlighting someone who has played a role in inspiring the artist in a meaningful way.
Today we talk to CAKE and ask her why she chose her person of interest, Käthe Kollwitz.

CAKE is preparing a portrait of Käthe Kollwitz, the German painter, printmaker, and sculptor whose work spoke to the harsh realities of the human condition. “The broad spectrum of her artistic work embraces both crucial aspects of life suffering per se, poverty and death, hunger and war,” said art dealer, collector and artist Hans Pels-Leusden, who founded the Käthe Kollwitz Museum in Berlin in 1986.

For CAKE, whose wheat-pasted paintings on New York streets since the late 2000s have spoken to her own observations on emotional and physical pain, addiction, and troubled family dynamics, Kollwitz is a natural kinship, a touchstone of humanity.

“I picked Käthe Kollwitz for so many reasons. She is an artist who gives to her subjects.  She gives dignity to the suffering in her work.  She takes the suffering, the hungry, the dying, the scared, and she gives them humanity, she gives them the gift of themselves again, despite the life circumstances they are in the middle of.

They are not presented as less than, and she has become an advocate for them. She wanted to give through her work – she wanted to help. She was completely dedicated to the work, and as an artist I connect with and value this deeply.

I look to Kollwitz to remind me that making work is a powerful way to connect to life, and to offer one’s self to service through making it. I cannot express enough the gratitude I have for this artist.  Some art has the ability to immediately bring you into the present moment, into your humanness, back into your soul, and when it does this, it is more crucial than just about anything I can think of.

Kollwitz’s work does this for me.  It breaks my heart and then heals it all at once.”


A recent piece by Cake (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Cake (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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