Ernst Barlach

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Barlach, Ernst


Born Jan. 2, 1870, in Wedel, Schleswig-Holstein; died Oct. 24,1938, in Rostock. German sculptor, graphic artist, and writer.

Barlach studied at the arts and industrial school in Hamburg (1888–91), at the Academy of Arts in Dresden (from 1891), and in Paris (1895–96). In 1906 he visited Russia. After 1910 he worked in Güstrow. In Barlach’s creative work the plastic language of German Gothic art was reinterpreted in the spirit of expressionism. In his sculpture the strong internal movement, which permeates the stocky, generalized forms of the human body, is sharply contrasted with the reserved nature of the static composition, thereby creating great emotional tension by purely plastic means. Barlach worked primarily in wood. Humanistic and marked by a passionate rejection of militarism, Barlach’s art was persecuted in fascist Germany. Barlach was forbidden to work, and his works were confiscated or destroyed.

Barlach’s works include war memorials in cathedrals in Güstrow (today in the Antoniterkirche in Cologne; bronze, 1927) and in Magdeburg (wood, 1929); illustrations to his own drama The Poor Cousin (lithograph, 1919); and illustrations to Goethe’s Faust (woodcuts, 1923).


Das dichterische Werk; vols. 1–3. Munich, 1956–59.


Shmidt, Iu. “Ernst Barlakh.” Tvorchestvo, 1968, no. 7.
Carls, K. D. Ernst Barlach, 6th ed. Berlin, [1954].
Fechter, P. Ernst Barlach. Gütersloh, 1957.
Fühmann, F. Ernst Barlach. . . . Rostock, 1964.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Greenhead College has been exchanging with Ernst Barlach Gymnasium since 1993.
They were brutally seized almost overnight from respectable civic art galleries, museums and private collections and hung like hostages on public display where the German populace was encouraged to sneer and revile masterworks by, among many others, Matisse, Egon Schiele, Emil Nolde, or Ernst Barlach.
The contrast in this room is provided by a small cabinet with drawings and watercolours by Ernst Barlach and Emil Nolde, both of whom also had National Socialist devotees.
This text presents a beautiful collection of drawings and other art by Ernst Barlach that draw on the Nibelungen, the royal family of the Burgundians who settled in Worms, Germany in the 5th century.
The first, "Literary Treatments of the Reading of Literature" (220-28), presents three exemplary cases: the "Paolo and Francesca" episode in Dante's Divina Commedia is used to consider the thesis (as unnumbered subtitle) that "Reading Can Be Destructive"; Ernst Barlach's 1930 woodcarving "Reading Cloister Scholar" to exemplify "Reading Against Empathy" (also a subtitle); and Heinrich Mann's 1918 novel Der Untertan [The Loyal Subject] to discuss "Reading for Free Time--Potentials for Reconstruction of Discourse." The authors conclude that "The Harry Potter novels comment through their epic world on societal, political and cultural realities" by "attaching themselves to known models which they pick up and carry further" (228).
Finally, in 1923, Ernst Barlach does an expressionistic woodcarving entitled Faust and Mephistopheles (online).
An Artist against the Third Reich." Ernst Barlach, 1933-1938, by Peter Paret.
Peter Paret, An Artist against the Third Reich: Ernst Barlach 1933-1938, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003, pp.
Five of them are devoted to individual artists: Adolphe Menzel, two on Max Liebermann, Ernst Barlach, and the Nazi propaganda artist Hans Schweizer.