31 October 2009


Ernst Barlach (1870-1938) is a German printmaker and sculptor. He began studying at the School of Arts and Crafts in Hamburg, and later spent a year at the Academie Julian in France. He is known well for his sophisticated expressionist bronze sculptures, as well as his pacifist position in Nazi Germany. Barlach's work turned so conspicuously anti-War that much of it was termed "degenerate art" and was confiscated. He was not the only recognized artist to be banned during the time period; along with him, Marc Chagall, Wassily Kandinsky and Georg Grosz, to name a few, were also condemned. As well as being a notable artist, Barlach wrote a series of expressionist dramas and novels, one of which he won the Kleist prize for. Barlach died in 1938, essentially banned from the artistic and literary communities of Germany by the government. His work did not resurface and gain due acclaim until after the war and after his death.

Russian Beggarwoman II, 1907

Seated Girl, 1908

The Avenger, 1914
"The 1933 Nazi manifesto on artistic and cultural policy demanded that ‘sculptures that are offensive to the national sensibility and yet still desecrate public squares and parks should disappear as quickly as possible, regardless of whether these works were created by ‘geniuses’ like Lehmbruck or Barlach.’ Several of Barlach’s war memorials were removed from churches in 1937. The Avenger had been made at the beginning of the First World War, when Barlach was a nationalist, and represents the unstoppable force of the German army. A later wooden version was confiscated by the Nazis." (Tate)

Desperate Discussion, 1916

Grave of the Child, 1919

The Singing Man, 1928

Reading Monks III, 1932

The Forsaken, 1930-34

Old Woman Laughing, 1937

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